METRO CORE SESSION #6: THE COVENANT PROMISE May 1, 2013 Greg Cahalan & Jeremy Schossau

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1 METRO CORE SESSION #6: THE COVENANT PROMISE May 1, 2013 Greg Cahalan & Jeremy Schossau Welcome back to Core Sessions! We are in session #6 of a series where we are exploring the core essentials of the Christian faith. If you were here last week, you know that we left off talking about the effects of The Fall. When Adam and Eve doubted the goodness of God and desired His creation more than they desired Him, they became evil and sinned. As a result, God cursed the entire earth, and the effects were devastating. There were five of them: EFFECTS OF THE FALL: 1. The Physical Creation is Decaying 2. We are Guilty by Association 3. We are Condemned 4. We have a Sinful Nature 5. We Deserve Infinite Punishment. Unless there is a way for us to be saved, our situation is beyond hopeless. We owe a debt that we can never repay, and hell is forever. But into this hopeless situation, before the juice from the forbidden fruit even stopped dripping from Adam & Eve s chins, God made a promise to save sinners and deliver them from Satan s power. It is found in Genesis 3:15. So the LORD God said to the serpent, " I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:14-15). God promises that Eve will have an offspring who will crush Satan s head. The whole rest of the Bible is the story of how this plan unfolds. But immediately after The Fall in Genesis 3, the sinful nature of humanity goes on full display. By chapter 6, God says this about human sin: The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth for I am grieved that I have made them. (Genesis 6:5-7). This is a description of what sinners are like and what they deserve. In other words, this is a description of what you and I are like, and what WE deserve. We have a sinful nature and have evil hearts. As a result, we deserve to be wiped out and destroyed. Page 1 of 17

2 The Tension Between Justice and Grace But then something amazing and scandalous happens. This God of justice decides to save one of us. It is described in one breathtaking verse of Scripture: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:8). The word grace carries the idea of completely undeserved favor. This is the first mention of God s grace in the Bible, and it is shocking to find it in the same story as the most extreme act of God s judgment in the Old Testament. God is preparing to destroy every single person on the face of the earth, and in the middle of it He chooses to show grace to one man and his family. We all know the story. God tells Noah to build a boat because He is going to send a flood and destroy every living thing on the face of the earth. Somehow this has become a cute children s story, but there is nothing cute about it. Noah builds the boat and fills it with his family and all the animals that God commands, which is cute. But then God sends the flood and kills everyone on earth except for those on the boat. That is not cute. In the middle of all this, it s easy to forget that Noah was included in God s statement about the wickedness of all humanity in verse 5. He was a sinner who deserved to be wiped out, but God decides, based on his own good pleasure, to save him instead. Noah and his family are saved by God s grace. And here emerges with crystal clarity two of the most important themes in the Bible: God is a God of JUSTICE AND God is a God of GRACE The tension between the justice of God and the grace of God is the central drama of the Biblical story. How can God be both a God of justice, and a God of grace? It does not seem consistent. And yet here is the way God describes Himself: The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7). So which is it? Does God forgive wickedness, or does he punish the guilty? How can it be both? Clearly Noah deserved to be destroyed with the rest of mankind, and yet God saved Him? How is this right? How is this consistent with God s justice and the fact that the guilty must be punished and sinners must die? This tension builds throughout the Old Testament and into the New. And then comes Jesus, who resolves all the tension. Look at this: Page 2 of 17

3 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26). One of the biggest problems in the Old Testament is that it seemed unjust and arbitrary for God to forgive sinners, and yet He sometimes forgave the worst of sinners. Take King David, for example. He was an adulterer and a murderer. Both of these crimes required the death penalty under God s law. And yet God forgave him just because he was sorry! This is scandalous! I mean imagine if someone came over to your house and raped one of your family members and killed them. And you called the police, who eventually found the criminal, but they didn t arrest him because he was sorry. What? You would be outraged! You would demand justice! This was precisely the issue that was building in the Old Testament. And then came Jesus! The death of Jesus turned the tables! The death of Jesus paid the FULL PENALTY for every crime ever committed. The infinitely holy God DIED for the sins of the people. He took our place! Because of the death of Jesus, it is now unjust if God DOESN T forgive sinners who put their faith in Him! 1 John 1:9 says that If we confess our sins, God is faithful and JUST to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What this shows is that every single display of God s grace throughout all of history is based on the death of Jesus on the cross. God is able to leave sins unpunished because Jesus death on the cross satisfied God s justice for everyone who puts their faith in Him. And this was God s plan from the very beginning. In God s mind, Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world (see Revelation 13:8). His death is the focal point of history. God saved people in the OId Testament by looking forward to Jesus death. And God saves people today by looking back on Jesus death. The only thing required to be saved is FAITH. In the Old Testament, it was faith in God s promise of salvation. In the New Testament, it is faith in God s accomplishment of salvation through Jesus death and resurrection. But salvation is, and always has been, by grace alone through faith alone. It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is how God saved Noah: Noah put his faith in God s promise. Here is God s promise to him: I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you (this is the first mention of the word covenant in the Bible), and you will enter the ark-- you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is Page 3 of 17

4 to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them. Noah did everything just as God commanded him. (Genesis 6:17-22). And here is the way the Bible describes Noah s faith. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7). Noah was saved by grace through faith in God s promise. And God established a covenant of grace with him. Covenant The Promise of Redemption This concept of COVENANT is crucial to understanding God s grace in the Bible. By God s gracious design, covenants form the basis of humanity s relationship with Him. The ONLY way that we can have a relationship with God is if He establishes a covenant with us. And this is precisely what He does with Noah. It is also what He does later with Abraham, Moses and David. God s covenants form the structure of the whole flow of history in the Old Testament. God s covenants are the promise of redemption for His covenant people! In the rest of our time together tonight, we are going to walk through the remainder of Old Testament history by looking at the five covenants that God has made with humanity. These covenants are the keys to understanding the promise and history of redemption in the Bible leading up to Jesus. The Five Covenants: 1. The Noahic Covenant (Noah) 2. The Abrahamic Covenant (Abraham) 3. The Mosaic Covenant (Moses) 4. The Davidic Covenant (David) 5. The New Covenant (Messiah) Here is a good, simple definition: Covenant = a solemn commitment to keep promises. One of the best examples of entering into a covenant today is the marriage relationship. During a wedding ceremony, a husband and wife make a solemn commitment to keep promises to each other in the form of wedding vows. In the same way, God makes promises to us and makes a solemn commitment to keep them. Our responsibility under the covenant is to put our faith in His promises and trust them. This means that: Our relationship with God is COVENANTAL. God makes promises, and if we trust them, He enters into relationship with us by His grace. Page 4 of 17

5 Every covenant God makes has at least four common features: Features of God s Covenants: 1. Promises for faithfulness 2. Commands to be obeyed by faith 3. Warnings for unfaithfulness 4. A Sign to celebrate and remember As we explore the 5 covenants God has made, we will see how the story of the Bible is one united story with one central promise that finds its ultimate fulfillment in the New Covenant that was purchased by the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross. We will also find that the covenants are progressive. This means that they build upon one another, until they reach their consummation in Christ. Let s go back and start with Noah and watch how God s plan to save us unfolds. The Noahic Covenant Before God sends the flood to destroy the earth, He speaks to Noah and says I will establish my covenant with you (Genesis 6:18). We have already seen that this promise was based solely on God s grace, and that Noah responded with faith and built the ark. Some people look at Noah and think that somehow he deserved to be saved by God. They think that God saved him because he was somehow better than all the other people whom God killed in the flood. But the Scripture simply says that Noah found GRACE in the eyes of the LORD. Noah did not in any sense deserve to be saved. He was wicked just like the rest of mankind, but God chose to come to him and make a promise. In this way, God began to unfold His promise of redemption. It started with one man and his family. God did not make this promise to anyone else; He made it to Noah and his family alone. And when Noah responded with FAITH, God saved Him! Noah s entire life is summarized beautifully in Genesis 6:9: Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. This is an amazing statement considering that only four verses before this, Noah was included in this statement: The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). This shows the POWER of God s promise to change a life! When Noah trusted God s promise, he received God s righteousness that comes from faith, and his new relationship with God gave him the power to live a life of obedience. Noah walked with God by faith! This is the same thing that happens to each of us today when we put our faith in God s promises to us. We become NEW CREATIONS in Christ, and everything changes as we walk with God! Page 5 of 17

6 In Genesis 8 and 9, after the flood is over, Noah built an altar to the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings as an expression of his worship to God for saving him. This is what a heart of faith looks like. It is a heart that is filled with worship and thankfulness! And then as Noah is worshipping Him, God elaborates on the covenant he is making with him. First, we see Promise for faithfulness: Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21). God promises here that even though we are evil from birth and deserve to be destroyed (don t miss that), He will not give us what we deserve. And the scandal of God s grace starts to emerge. There is nothing fair about this! We don t deserve this! Whatever you do, don t ever ask God to be fair. If you got what you deserve, you would be in big trouble. Please God, give us anything but fair! Oh God, give us your grace! Next, we see: Commands to be obeyed by faith: Faith is always the way that we experience and receive God s grace. And faith always expresses itself through obedience to God s commands. Here are God s commands to Noah that he obeyed by faith: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). Isn t that a great command? Have lots of sex and make lots of babies! There is definitely something to learn about God from commands like this! Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. (Genesis 9:4). God for the first time permits the taking of animal life for food, but the animal s blood remains sacred. This is because the blood of animal sacrifices will eventually cover peoples sins under the Mosaic Covenant, as we will see in a few minutes. This command is preparation for that. [Do not] shed the blood of man (Genesis 9:6). Human blood and life is of highest importance, because one day God himself will become a man shed his blood for the people. Page 6 of 17

7 Warning for unfaithfulness: Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man (Genesis 9:6). The central theme of the Noahic Covenant is the value of human life, which was created in the image of God. God promises to preserve human life instead of destroy it; He commands Noah and his family to reproduce human life; He gives animals as food to sustain human life; and then He condemns to death anyone who takes human life. All of this points to the day when God will express the infinite value of human life by becoming human himself in order to redeem human life once and for all. Then God gives the sign of His covenant. A sign to celebrate and remember: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. (Genesis 9:13-15). Remember from last week that the entire physical world is sacramental. In other words, the physical world exists to express spiritual realities. Whenever you see a rainbow in the sky, it is sacramental of God s promise to give us grace instead of destroying us like we deserve. And make no mistake, we deserve to be destroyed. It doesn t take long to see that the Flood didn t remove evil from the earth. This is because God did not remove Noah from the earth, and Noah was a sinner. In fact, the sinfulness of man is no better after the flood than it was before. Two verses after God stopped talking about the covenant he was making with him, Noah got drunk and passed out naked in his tent, and one of his sons sinned against him and was cursed for it. And then two chapters later, all the people came together and tried to build a tower to heaven to set themselves up as equal with God. This is known as the tower of Babel. To stop the people without killing them, God confused their language and scattered them over the entire earth. We are sinful and deserve to be destroyed, but God had made a covenant with us through Noah a solemn commitment to give us grace instead of destroying us. And then God renewed and expanded His covenant with a man named Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant We first meet Abraham in Genesis 11 and 12. Out of nowhere, for no explainable reason, God chooses him and speaks to him. And the first thing he speaks is a promise: The LORD said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I Page 7 of 17

8 will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:1-3). These are incredible promises! God promises land, offspring, and a blessing which will bless every nation on earth. God did not choose Abraham because he was better or more deserving than anyone else. In fact, in the chapters immediately after God makes these promises to him, we see that Abraham is a selfish liar who on two occasions gave his wife to other men in order to protect himself, and he eventually had sex and a child with his wife s servant at his wife s request. It s crazy! The Bible makes no attempt to protect its heroes. This is one of the reasons I believe the Bible is from God. It is utterly unique in this way. Abraham, arguably the most important figure in the Old Testament, is shown to be a miserable sinner. But Abraham s sinfulness does not stop God from renewing His promises to him: Look up at the heavens and count the stars-- if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:5-6). Abraham responds to God s promise with faith, and God CREDITS it to him as righteousness. This is incredibly important language. Notice it does not say that Abraham IS righteous, it says that God credits him as righteous because of his faith. Here is the way the apostle Paul describes this principle in the New Testament: To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:5). Salvation cannot be earned by our works. It must simply be received by faith. When we trust God s promises to us, He forgives our sins and credits us as righteous. This is only possible because of Jesus life and death in our place: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus took our sin, and we receive His righteousness by faith. It s the greatest trade ever! Here are the terms of God s Covenant with Abraham: Promises for faithfulness This is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:4-8) God promises Abraham: 1. He will be the father of many nations 2. God will be his God and the God of his descendants forever 3. The promised land will belong to him and to his descendants forever Page 8 of 17

9 All of these promises are focused on the fact that Abraham will have offspring. And this is amazing because Abraham did not have the son God promised him until he was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90 years old! Their son Isaac was a miracle, and he points forward to the ultimate offspring of Abraham: The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16). And in Christ, the descendants referred to in these promises include everyone who will ever put their faith in Him. We all become children of Abraham by FAITH in Jesus. It is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:7-9). All of these promises all find their ultimate fulfillment in heaven as described in the book of Revelation: I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9-10). Because of the seed of the woman, the offspring of Abraham whose name is Jesus, who crushed the serpent s head when he was slain as the Lamb of God, Abraham will become the father of a great multitude that no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language! I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:2-3). Because of Jesus, God will be the God of the children of Abraham FOREVER! They will be his people, and He will be their God! And the Promised Land will come down from God out of heaven, and will belong to Abraham s children FOREVER! God s covenant with Abraham, as always, also included commands to be obeyed by faith. Commands to be obeyed by faith The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1). Page 9 of 17

10 God called Abraham to leave his homeland and seek the Promised Land that God would provide. We are called to do the same today. This world is not our home. We are told to seek the Kingdom of Heaven and live as aliens and strangers in this world. The next command is: As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 16:9-10) All I can say to that is OUCH! This is a call for Abraham s offspring to set themselves apart and mark themselves as the people of God. We must PUBLICLY declare ourselves as the people of God. We do this today through baptism, which is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision. Then God said, Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." (Genesis 22:2). This is the most difficult command to obey of them all. It is a two-fold calling: 1. To love God above else. 2. To believe God will keep His promise, even when it seems impossible. Faith in God requires that in comparison to our love for Him, everything else feels like hate. Here is the way Jesus put it: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27). Of course this doesn t literally mean that you hate people. It just means that your love for God is greater than your love for anyone or anything else. There is literally NOTHING you would not give up for His sake. This is what the Bible calls FAITH! And faith in God required that we TRUST Him to keep His promises, even when it seems impossible. Here is why Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son: By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:17-19). The way this story of Abraham and Isaac ends is amazing. Page 10 of 17

11 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (Genesis 22:9-14). This promise finds its ultimate fulfillment thousands of years later when God provided the ultimate sacrifice. He did not ask anyone else to sacrifice their son, He sacrificed His own! It says on the mountain of the LORD it will be provided, and it was on the top of a mountain where Jesus hung on a cross and cried It is finished as He died for the sins of the world! On the mountain of the LORD it was provided once and for all! Warning for unfaithfulness As always, the condition to receive the promises of God is FAITH. We are called to express our faith by seeking the Kingdom of God and not the things of things of this world, to go PUBLIC with our faith and live it openly, to love God above all else and to trust Him promises even when they seem impossible. If we will not, we will be cut off from the Covenant. Here is the way it was expressed in Abraham s day: Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. (Genesis 17:14). It is the same way today: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26-27). A Sign to celebrate and remember Circumcision was the outward sign of inward faith under the Covenant with Abraham. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. (Genesis 17:11). So God renewed and expanded His covenant with Noah by making a covenant with Abraham and his offspring. The problem is that Abraham s offspring almost never kept up their end of the covenant. They almost never trusted God and obeyed His commands by faith. The remainder of the book of Genesis is unbelievable in its descriptions of the people s unfaithfulness. They are liars, they are adulterers, they commit incest, they commit homosexuality, they worship idols instead of God, they hate each other, they sell each other Page 11 of 17

12 into slavery, they murder each other. It seems impossible that God will ever be able to keep His promises to these people, because they don t seem capable of keeping their end of the Covenant. It literally seems hopeless. And to make matters worse, the descendants of Abraham eventually find themselves in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. The covenant God made with Abraham seems like a distant memory by this time. Think about how long 400 years is, and God was silent this entire time. And if that wasn t bad enough, the Egyptian Pharaoh issues a decree that every Hebrew boy that is born must be killed. It looks like the promised seed of Abraham might be destroyed. But God is never absent, no matter how hopeless it seems. In fact, it seems as if God deliberately allows impossible situations so He can deliver us from them. And this is precisely what He does here. God supernaturally protects a Hebrew child named Moses and raises him up to be the deliverer of His people from slavery. And once again, the choice of Moses has nothing to do with his goodness. When God called Moses, he was calling a murderer who doubted that God could use him. It is all based on God s grace. We all know how the story goes. God sends Moses and then sends ten plagues on Egypt, with the final one being the death of all the Egyptian firstborn sons. God tells His people to sacrifice a lamb and paint the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. God then decides which houses to kill the firstborn sons and which houses to pass over by the presence of the blood of the sacrificed lambs. This is sacramental of the ultimate Passover Lamb named Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. If the blood of Jesus is applied to your heart, God will pass over you on the Day of Judgment and you will be saved from His wrath. God then parts the Red Sea, destroys the Egyptian army, and leads Israel to a mountain in the desert in order to renew and expand His covenant with them. Do you see how this is all part of one unified plan to save His covenant people? The Mosaic Covenant Here is the first thing God told Moses to say to the Israelites when He sent him to deliver them from Egypt: I have remembered my covenant. Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD. (Exodus 6:6-8). So everything God did for them was to keep His covenant with Abraham. And then in the desert at Mount Sinai, God renews and expands His covenant: Then the LORD said: I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see Page 12 of 17

13 how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:10-14). Here are the terms of the Mosaic Covenant: Promises for Faithfulness If you track through all the promises God s makes to Israel as part of the Mosaic Covenant, they boil down to the same things He promised to Abraham. The Mosaic covenant renews and expands on the Abrahamic covenant. 1. They will be a great nation and bless every nation on earth 2. God will be their God forever 3. The promised land will belong to them forever But in the Mosaic covenant, God adds something enormous to the mix: 4. Atonement for sin God now promises to Israel that if they put their trust in Him and obey His commands by faith, then He will provide atonement for their sin. In other words, God is going to make away to literally REMOVE their sin from them and not count it against them! God institutes a system of animal sacrifice and atones for the sins of the people through the shedding of blood. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. (Leviticus 17:11). Sacrificing animals for atonement of sin was sacramental of God s plan to one day atone for sin once and for all through the shed blood of Jesus. We are going to spend the entire next week on the law of Moses and its purpose and relevance to us today. But for now, we should know that entire purpose of the Old Testament law is to point to Christ, where everything it prescribes and promises is fulfilled. Here is one of the great expressions of these promises: If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5-6). As God s holy kingdom of priests, Israel has the calling to bring the knowledge of God to every other nation on Earth. This promise finds its ultimate fulfillment as God raises up the ultimate Page 13 of 17

14 prophet from among them to speak on His behalf. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. (Deut. 18:18). After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostle Peter declares that this prophecy refers to Jesus Himself. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God s covenants. Commands to be obeyed by faith All of the commands of the Mosaic Law are summarized by the Ten Commandments, which are further summarized by what has become known as the Great Commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40). We must never forget that obedience to the Law does not make a person acceptable to God. Obedience is the expression of their FAITH, which is what makes them acceptable to God. This is true for every covenant God has ever made. Salvation is always by GRACE through FAITH. Warnings for unfaithfulness Never is God s intolerance of unfaithfulness clearer than in the warnings found in Deuteronomy 28, starting in verse 15. You have got to go back and read this chapter at some point. It is brutal and terrifying. God is a jealous God. He will not tolerate us doubting His goodness and desiring something else more than Him. Here is a sample: If you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. (Deuteronomy 28:15-20). Enough said. DO NOT forsake Him! You will regret it. A Sign to celebrate and remember The sign of the Mosaic covenant is the Passover sacrifice. It is the shedding of blood to remember how God saved his people. Page 14 of 17

15 Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:21, 25-27). This points forward to Jesus, the final Passover Lamb. During the final Passover that Jesus ever celebrated with his disciples before he died, he replaced the Passover ceremony with the ceremony of Communion. Communion, which is patterned after the Passover, is the sign of the New Covenant as we remember the broken body and shed blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Once again, isn t it amazing how thousands of years of history is all tied together like this? From all eternity, God has had a plan to save us by His grace, even though we don t deserve it. And as God continued to renew and expand His covenant with us, our response continued to make it more and more obvious that we are hopeless and helpless sinners who deserve to be destroyed. The Davidic Covenant But God continued to be faithful to His promise. And despite the unfaithfulness of His people, He renewed and expanded His covenant through a man named David, whom God chose to be king over Israel. Now then, tell my servant David, This is what the LORD Almighty says: I will make your name great And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:8-13). The Promises, the Commandments, and the Warnings In the Davidic Covenant, the promises made to Abraham and Moses remain, the commandments made to Abraham and Moses remain, and the warnings made to Abraham and Moses remain. But something new is added: The promise of a King and a Kingdom that will last FOREVER! God promises a King and a Kingdom that will provide: Page 15 of 17

16 1. Protection of God s people from their enemies 2. Prosperity and blessing to God s people 3. The Presence of God to dwell among with His people. And the promised King s name is JESUS! Jesus will crush the head of God s enemies, starting with the ancient serpent called the devil! Jesus will bring every spiritual blessing to God s people, filling them with His love, joy and peace! And Jesus IS the face to face presence of God. Jesus is GOD WITH US! Jesus is the ANOINTED ONE, the KING! He is the promised Messiah, the Son of David! A Sign to celebrate and remember The sign of the Davidic Kingdom is the TEMPLE that the King will build. It is a house where God s presence will dwell. The physical temple built by David s son Solomon in Jerusalem was sacramental of the temple that Jesus, the ultimate son of David, will build. The temple that Jesus will build is His church. God s people themselves will now become the temple of the Holy Spirit where the presence of God dwells. The New Covenant This is the heart of the promise of the New Covenant, which is where the Old Testament ends. All of Old Testament history is summed up in two ideas: the faithfulness of God, and the unfaithfulness of God s people. God saves us in spite of our rebellion and sin. We do not deserve His goodness. He does it for His own sake. It is all GRACE! Listen to the way God describes the unfaithfulness of Israel to His covenants. I have to warn you, it is very graphic, but it is filled with invincible hope. This is where we will end tonight. This is the promise of the New Covenant that Jesus will bring in the New Testament: The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman's monthly uncleanness in my sight. So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, 'These are the LORD's people, and yet they had to leave his land.' I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring Page 16 of 17

17 you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:16-28). Isn t this amazing and breathtaking! It is NOT for our sake that God will save us, but for the sake of the GLORY of His Holy Name! This means that God s love for us does not ultimately depend on us, it depends on His commitment to GLORIFY His name in every nation on earth. This is an invincible plan, and nothing can stop it. God gets all the glory, we get all the grace and all the mercy and forgiveness and love! All He asks of us is FAITH, and the New Covenant will even provide us with this. Even faith itself is a gift of God s grace. It is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9). And what is faith? Look back at Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. For all of them, faith was simply responding to what God said. God told them what to do, and they either trusted Him or they didn t. If you trust God, you will do what He says. Anything else is not LIVING faith. It is DEAD faith that will not save you. It is the kind of faith demons have. Don t be like a demon and just believe God exists. Trust God and do what He says by faith, and you will show yourself to be one of His Covenant people. You will show yourself to be covered by His grace! We serve an amazing God, amen? Let s pray and express our worship to Him! Page 17 of 17

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