Age of Israel: Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #10
May 20, 2014
"Father we are thankful that we have this opportunity to come before You at Your throne of grace in prayer because Jesus Christ opened the way. He is our great High Priest. The veil that separated us from You has been rent asunder and we as Church Age believers, members of the body of Christ, have direct access to Your throne of grace. Now Father we come before You this evening recognizing our need to understand You and to understand Your Word, understand Your plan for history. And as we continue this study we pray that it might give us a greater understanding and perspective of Scripture, how to read and understand Scripture so that we can take what is directed to us and apply it to us and understand what is there for implication and application and relate that as well; and that we would be responsive to the challenge of all the principles that we see in Your Word. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
We are going to go back a little bit this evening. I want to pick up a couple of more things from the Abrahamic Covenant, which we looked at last time. Remember we have opportunity for Q&A for questions from anyone in the audience. I will stop a few times for questions. Those who are watching via the live stream have the opportunity. There is a link there on the website where you can write in your question and they will immediately come into the congregation here and someone will ask the question for you.
I want to go back a minute to the Abrahamic Covenant. Just by way of review, we are looking at the biblical covenants. Biblical covenants are distinct from theological covenants. In fact, this last week as I was studying there is actually a covenant in the Scripture that is an eternal covenant and it is not on the list. I have found a new covenant. It is kind of fun when something like that happens and it is interesting how it fits into the scope of Scripture. The primary biblical covenants, the ones that we usually talk about, are the ones that are in the chart on the screen (see slide #3–8 Biblical Covenants). They are the Gentile covenants. I believe these are the Creation Covenants. I like that term; the more I use it, the more I like it. Instead of Edenic and Adamic; they sound a lot alike and people can get that confused. But it is the original Creation Covenant and it established when God creates man and woman, male and female, in His image in Genesis 1:27-28. It establishes the framework for and the purpose for the human race to rule over creation, to rule over the fish in the sea and the birds of the air, the beast of the field. And of course, this is the number one verse in Scripture that the environmentalists hate more than anything else because they believe that the human race is just part of something else a part of all of the rest of the evolutionary mess that just happened by chance as opposed to something that is distinguished and set over the rest of creation as the unique representative of God.
The Edenic Covenant of the Creation Covenant had to be modified at the Fall when Adam disobeyed and ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That brought sin and spiritual death into the human race; therefore, there were new conditions and consequences. I have reiterated this many times. There is a penalty. The legislative penalty from God for sin was spiritual death. Their consequences to spiritual death and the consequences that entered into creation; that is what is outlined in Genesis 3. That becomes the foundation for the Adamic Covenant; the mandate basically remains the same: to multiply it, fill the earth, and to subdue it. Man doesn't do that; he succumbs to evil and God brings a worldwide judgment in Genesis 6-8, which is the worldwide Noahic Flood. God then reestablishes His covenant with man, with Noah in Genesis 9. That is the Noahic Covenant, which is still in effect today.
There is failure on the part of the human race though because at the Tower of Babel there is an attempt for man to run his destiny according to his own purposes. That is where we really begin to see the Bible begin to bring in the purpose for history. There is going to be a shift that takes place there. God judges the nations by giving them different languages and this breaks the human race up into different subsets or different tribal groups, which eventually become nations. At that point God is, Genesis 12, we saw last time is juxtapose to Genesis 11. Genesis 11, the descendants of Ham through Nimrod attempted to make a name for themselves. God calls out Abram in Genesis 12 and says, "I will make your name great." That is the foundation for the Abrahamic Covenant, which is then broken down into three subsequent covenants or rather expanded into three subsequent covenants: the Land Covenant, the real estate covenant, the promise of a specific piece of real estate; the Davidic Covenant, the promise of an eternal descendant on the throne of David; and then the New Covenant. We just worked through mostly the Abrahamic Covenant already; and then tonight we will get into the Mosaic Covenant.
We broke the panorama of human history down into four basic ages (see slide #4–The Ages of Civilization): the Age of the Gentiles, which will be subdivided into three dispensations: the dispensation of Innocence, the dispensation of Conscience, and the dispensation of Human Government ending at the Tower of Babel. This then is the context for the call of Abram and this begins a new age, a distinct age. We can't really grasp how revolutionary the Abrahamic Covenant is. Everything after this is different. All of human history since Genesis 12:1 is determined by Genesis 12:1. God is calling out a unique people and it is through this unique people that He will bless everyone else. It is the destiny of those people that is at the centerpiece of human history until it ends with the destruction of the current heavens and earth and the New Heavens and New Earth. Then there is the Cross, which ends the Age of Israel; then the beginning of the current Church Age, at the Day of Pentecost in AD 33. This actually ends with the Rapture. Then there is a seven-year Tribulation, which is the last seven years of the Age of Israel that comes at the end of the Church Age or after the end of the Church Age; and then we have the Millennial Kingdom established, the Messianic Kingdom that lasts for a thousand years. That will conclude with the judgment bringing in Eternity Future.
1. To Abraham personally: we looked at the Abrahamic Covenant last time (see slide#6–D. Categorizing the Provisions). We looked at the key passages in Genesis 12, Genesis 15, and Genesis 17; went through all the different stipulations in parts of it. I wanted to come back this time and break down the provisions in terms of three components. There are certain promises that are addressed to Abraham personally; there are certain components that are addressed to Israel, to his descendants, to the seed personally; and then there are certain promises that are made to the Gentiles as a result of the Abrahamic Covenant. So what are the promises that were made to Abraham? God says/promised:
a. He is going to be the father of a great nation; many kings will come forth from him later, but the great nation that is mentioned is Israel, the Jewish people.
b. He himself will possess the land. God says, I will give this land to you. The problem with that is that Abraham never possessed the land; in fact, he only purchased one small piece of real estate located down near Hebron, which is the Cave of Machpelah, where he buried Sarah and where he is buried. Isaac, Jacob and their wives are also buried there as well.
c. Other nations will come from him. These would be the Arab peoples that are descendants from Ishmael, via his relationship with Hagar; and then through Esau, his grandson, the twin of Isaac. What makes Jewish people Jewish is not that they are descendants from Abraham or Abraham or Isaac, but that they are descendants through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is what distinguishes them from all of the other descendants of Abraham.
d. Kings will arise from him. Kings to the various other nations that are descendants through him. You have the descendants through his descendant Lot, the Medianites; you also have the Moabites and you have the Arab nations.
e. Certain personal blessings.
f. He himself was to be (it is a mandate) a blessing to those around him.
g. His name would be great among men. It is not because Abraham was great or promoted himself, but because God promoted him. No one is really promoted unless God promotes you.
2. To the seed of Israel: the next category is promises to the Seed Israel (see slide #7).
For Israel He promised:
a. The nation will be great and distinct above all nations. Most of you have seen that Israel has the vast number of awards and accomplishments by the Jewish people; the number of Nobel Prize actors, actresses, musicians; they (Jewish peoples) excel above all other people. For a small group of people that consist of no more than about 14 million people, they have the lion's share of percentage of the awards and accomplishments in the human race.
b. They are destined to be innumerable; not that God can't number them, but it is a statement of hyperbole that their number would be like the stars in the sky or the sands on the seashore.
c. They (are destined to) would possess the land that God had given to them. To understand that we have to understand it in terms of the literal sense when God gave the boundaries from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates to the Great Sea, the Mediterranean. This would incorporate all the land today that makes up modern Israel as well as Jordan, elements of Syria, probably Saudi Arabia, and parts of the Sinai Peninsula. All of this is part of the land that God promised to Israel as an "everlasting possession." That word "everlasting" is so important because this is an "everlasting covenant."
d. And the seed of Israel are promised ultimate victory over their enemies. This has not happened yet in history. Just as the promise to Abraham that he would possess the land has not happened yet in history, so too the ultimate blessing, the ultimate glorification of Israel, their possession of the land has not yet happened in history and their victory over their enemies. So that is yet to be fulfilled. This is in the future.
3. To the Gentiles: the third area is God's promise to the Gentiles (see slide #8).
That God would:
a. Blessing for blessing; bless them if they blessed Israel.
b. Cursing for cursing; judge them if they treated Israel lightly or with disrespect.
c. Be spiritual blessings for the Gentiles through the Seed of Abraham as stated in Galatians 3:8-9.
The Apostle Paul applies this singular word "Seed" to the Lord Jesus Christ. The word "Seed" actually in Hebrew can be plural or singular, and so at times the context indicates it has a plural sense or corporate sense and at other times it has a singular sense. Paul took it that way to make his application in relationship to Christ in Galatians 3:8-9.
So that summarizes the provisions of the Covenant. Now, another thing that is important to realize here, is that whenever God makes a promise in the Scripture, He makes it to either a person or a group of people. He made certain promises to Abraham. We can't go back and read those promises given to Abraham and then claim them as if God is bound by that promise for us because that is reading somebody else's mail. That is looking at somebody else's contract. God did not promise that to us. He promised that to Abraham or to the Jewish people. So we always have to be careful. There are some principles that can be extrapolated at times. Often a promise is made to Israel is merely a manifestation of a broader principle or broader reality within the plan of God. But it is always one of the challenges in interpretation to determine what is a promise that is historically conditioned to a people or to a person. And those that have a universal application. And as I have said in the past, the Abrahamic Covenant is made up of three components (see slide#9–E. Three Basic Motifs):
1. A promise for the "land"
2. A promise of blessing in the "seed"
3. And a promise of worldwide "blessing"
The Abrahamic Covenant is confirmed many times in the remainder of Genesis as well as in the rest of the Old Testament (OT). God confirmed the covenant with Isaac in Genesis 26:2-5 and Genesis 26:24. That He would make the same covenant with Isaac that He made with Abraham. In Genesis 26:3-4 He told Isaac to "sojourn" or travel in the land "and I will be with you and bless you, for your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." It is a complete reconfirmation and reiteration of the Abrahamic Covenant to His son Isaac. So God promises blessing to Isaac and to Isaac's seed. But these promises are not merely to Isaac's seed but just like with Abraham, they are promises made to Isaac himself that God would bless him.
Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob, and God chose Jacob. That doesn't mean that Jacob was saved and Esau wasn't. The selection wasn't for eternal destiny in heaven. The selection was for the plan of God on the earth. So this is not an example of the doctrine of soteriological election, which is how many people misread the passage. It is an example of God selecting different groups, different people for certain destinies in history, and He did that with Jacob. He reiterated the promise to Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15, where God said to Jacob, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants." To your seed; that is that same word. We have words like that that have a corporate sense. They may be singular in function. They may be used singular or they may be used as a plural. The noun "deer" can be singular or plural. We have the same kind of thing in English. The word "seed" is the same way and here it has the idea of "descendants" plural. Genesis 28:14-15, "Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed." And then God said, "And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land."
So, with those words Esau was excluded from the covenant line and the covenant is confirmed only with Jacob. Neither Abraham nor Isaac owned land. They just had the Cave of Machpelah. Now this is important because of what happens at an interchange with Jesus later on in the Gospels. It has to do with the doctrine of resurrection. Jesus got into a conversation and debate with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now the Pharisees did believe in resurrection; the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. So the Sadducees came to Jesus one day (see slide #1–Matthew 22:23ff.) Matthew 22:23, "On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him." Now they are going to come up with a hypothetical question. It is always a problem; I don't like it when people say, well just hypothetically speaking. Because those kinds of things usually don't happen in reality; they just happen hypothetically. But they come up and they say, Matthew 22:24, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies, having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife (this was known as Levirate Marriage in order to preserve the inheritance within the family or within the clan) and raise up an offspring to his brother.' "
Matthew 22:25-30, " 'Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first marries and dies, and having no offspring he left his wife to his brother, so also the second and the third, down to the seventh.' " So here is the story, this woman marries one brother and he dies. Then she marries the other brother and it is not long before he dies. Then she marries a third brother and it is not long before he dies. And when they get through with this all seven have died mysteriously and last of all the woman dies. Their (Sadducees') question is in the resurrection whose wife of the seven shall she be? It seems to me the question would be are they convening a grand jury yet? (Laughter…) So the question they ask; note the Sadducees don't believe in resurrection. They are asking the question, they say, "whose wife of the seven shall they be?" "But Jesus answered." He is so sophisticated. He doesn't answer their question. He says, "You are mistaken." He just challenges them – you guys don't even believe in resurrection. How can you be even asking this question? You don't understand the Scriptures and the power of God "for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."
The issue here is that this passage is often taken as well, those sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6 that cohabited with the daughters of men; that can't really be angels because this passage says that angels can't have sex; they cannot take on human bodies and have sexual relations. Is that what that passage (Genesis 22:30) says? No, that passage says that they don't marry. There is not an institution of marriage in heaven. Now that implies that there is not a sexual procreation among the angels. I would agree with that, but that doesn't mean that angels that have immaterial bodies don't have the ability to transform themselves into creatures with material bodies that emulate the functions of the human body materially. When the two angels that accompanied the Preincarnate Lord Jesus Christ to Abraham in Genesis 17, they were tired; they rested; they ate; they drank; they slept; all those things. They transformed themselves into human bodies that had corporeal bodily functions for all practical purposes. So that would not be an argument against; that is what I call a rational argument that has no foundation in the text that is used to try to debunk the text that has firm lexical theological exegetical basis in at least three different Books of the Bible, Genesis 6, 1 Peter 3, and Jude as well.
So Jesus is not making an overall statement about some fact of some other situation. He is just saying that there is not marriage in heaven. So it doesn't really matter what the circumstances were on the earth, but then He says, Matthew 22:31-33, "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'." He is emphasizing the present tense of the verb. Sometimes you wonder why I emphasize verb tense or grammatical minutia in the text. Well we get this from the Scripture. There are several times Jesus built His whole argument just on a tense of the verb. Paul built his argument (Galatians 3:8-9), the one we just mentioned in Genesis, when he said when the Abrahamic Covenant refers to "Seed" it is a singular and not plural and that referred to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was building his whole argument on an exegetical point that the noun was a singular and not a plural in the verse from which he quoted it. So the Lord is doing the same thing here. He said God said, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." He said that when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were already dead in the ground. So if there is no resurrection then God would have said I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By putting it in the present tense, the Lord is indicating that they are still alive in their intermediate existence and He is currently the God of the living. That is His point at the end of the verse. Jesus said, " 'He is not the God of the dead but of the living.' And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching." So He just flipped the argument back on them completely.
So the point there is that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never realized the fulfillment of the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant during their lifetime. So that implies that there must be a resurrection in the future during which God will fulfill His promise to them and the Abrahamic Covenant will come to complete fulfillment and at some future time. So as we wrapped up, I pointed out the aspects of the status (of the Abrahamic Covenant, see slide #13–Abrahamic Covenant, G. Status):
1. That it is a permanent, unconditional covenant; it is still in effect.
Now, as we will see in this list in terms of the last point, is that the sign of the covenant, the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision. Circumcision, therefore, is still mandatory if you are Jewish because the covenant with Abraham is still in effect. The circumcision is not for salvation. The problem that you have in Galatians with the Judaizers was that they were taking circumcision from the Mosaic Law and making it mandatory for salvation or for sanctification. But what the Abrahamic Covenant does is that it makes it a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, which is eternal and everlasting. And so, if you are Jewish, there is still that mandate, even if you become a believer and you are in the Church Age. You are still racially and ethically Jewish and a descendant of Abraham; therefore, that covenant, because that is still in effect, would still apply to a Church Age believer who is ethnically Jewish. Just because you become a believer doesn't mean you are no longer ethnically Jewish. It just means your Jewish status doesn't have something to do with your relationship to God.
Galatians 3:28, where we have the verse that says that in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond or slave. Let's take something a little more obvious. You're a man; you trust in Christ as your Savior; are you still a male? Yes, you are still a male; but it is not an issue in terms of your relationship with God. In the OT if you were a male it was significant because you could have closer access to God in the temple. If you were a woman you couldn't. You couldn't get as close to God as a man could. If you were not Jewish you could not come into the temple; so that kept you from being close to God. So being Jewish in the OT meant that if you were a Jewish male and you were free, you could have access as close as you could get to God without going into the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could go. So the point that I am making is that I think we have often misunderstood passages like this. Just because your Jewishness doesn't impact your relationship with God and your spiritual status doesn't mean that it is still not significant in relation to the Abrahamic Covenant. That is why Paul had Timothy circumcised as we have studied in our study in Acts.
2. The New Testament does not change the unconditional nature of this covenant, which I clearly stated in Galatians 3:6-18. That is Paul's argument there; that the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect.
3. Paul's argument is that whatever the purpose of the Mosaic Covenant, it could not nullify or set aside the previous unconditional covenant.
Now that is important in Galatians 3. Paul is saying that the Mosaic Covenant was of a temporary nature. It was of a lesser quality. It could not supersede or replace a previous covenant. I'll come back to that in a minute, but we are talking about the Abrahamic Covenant being unconditional. It cannot be replaced by a temporary covenant.
Now this last week I got a question that came to me and I was asked the following question from somebody who was reading in Hebrews 8 and they read verse 13, Hebrews 8:13. This is a problem that happens if you don't contextualize what you are reading in the Scripture; you don't understand it in terms of its surrounding verses. Hebrews 8:13 says, in that He said, that is God speaking to Jeremiah in the passage just quoted, Jeremiah 31:31-34. In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."
Now the way this person read that when they read "He has made the first obsolete." He thought the first covenant was the Abrahamic Covenant. That is easy to do and it is understandable if you haven't worked your way through the context of Hebrews 7-8 where the writer of Hebrews is only dealing with two covenants, the temporary Mosaic Covenant and then its replacement, the New Covenant. That becomes clear because in Hebrews 7 he is talking about how the priesthood of Aaron, which is established by the Mosaic Covenant, is inferior to the High Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which allows the Lord Jesus Christ to establish a superior covenant, which is the New Covenant, which is the topic in Hebrews 8. So, it is just a point that a temporary covenant does not nullify the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect.
4. "Seed:" we see the emphasis on the word "Seed" that it is an everlasting seed.
5. That this covenant begins the dispensation of patriarchs or promise, which is what I looked at the last time.
Are there any questions? No questions.
Just a quick review; I went through this last time but I wanted to just hit it again [see slide #14–Dispensations 4: Patriarchs (Promise).]
A. Scripture: Genesis 12:1-Exodus 18-27 for the Dispensation of the Patriarchs, new administration, new revelation; all the features are here. Genesis 12:1 gives the new revelation and this extends to Exodus 18:27 before God gives the law.
B. Central person: Abraham. God makes the covenant with Abraham. God binds Himself alone.
C. Name: two names are used by dispensationalists:
Patriarchs: which recognizes the role of the three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Promise: which emphasizes the promise made to Abraham, Romans 4:1-20; Galatians 3:15-19; Hebrews 6:13-15; Hebrews 11:9.
D. Responsibility: there is a responsibility given.
Now this is important. I am going to really emphasize this when I hit this dispensation and the next one. It is what distinguishes them is going to be new revelation, which is what is given in the Abrahamic Covenant. The new revelation will define a "new responsibility." And here the responsibility is to the Abrahamic Covenant; to keep the seed isolated, to separate from the surrounding pagan cultures. And then that will lead to a test (see slide # 15) to see if they will do that and remain separate from the Canaanites, Genesis 24:3; Genesis 28:1 compared to Genesis 28:6-9.
F. Failure: there is failure which is their intermarriage with the Canaanites and assimilation with the culture around them.
G. Divine judgment: this leads to Divine judgment where Jacob and his sons are removed from the land. The land is a picture; it is literally the place of blessing. God takes them out. He says you are really disobedient; you are just messing up by the numbers. I am taking you out for your own benefit, to protect you, where you are going to grow in a different environment and then I can bring you back where there will be an opportunity to grow and mature because your numbers will be great.
H. Grace: But even in that we see God's Grace in the midst of judgment. He preserves the nation ethnically and spiritually and they prosper even in the midst of slavery.
Key application for us: Sometimes God is going to put us in really bad situations, but God knows what He is doing and we may not understand it. It is a Romans 8:28 issue that all things work together for good because we are in God's plan, because God loves us and He is working things together for good. That doesn't mean all things are good. Being a slave was not a good thing, but God used it toward His ultimate purpose to build the Jewish nation and to prepare them to serve Him in the land.
X. Then we come to the Mosaic Covenant (see slide #16–Mosaic Covenant):
A. Scripture: Exodus 20:1-Deuteronomy 28:58; Exodus 20-40.
In the Age of Israel we come to the Mosaic Covenant. Now the Mosaic Covenant and any one of these covenants is new revelation. What is one of the key elements that we know indicates that we are moving into a new period of God's administration of history? There is new revelation; there is new information given. God is going to modify the way in which He is administering human history and administering His people. So this is the Abrahamic Covenant and in a broad sense it is covered in Exodus 20:1 with the giving of the Ten Commandments, which are basically the prelude to the Mosaic Law and extends through Deuteronomy 28:58. Deuteronomy 29 deals with the Land Covenant. But the covenant proper is really the Law itself, the mandates in Exodus 20-40. There are additional ones in Leviticus, of course, with the offerings and the laws related to the priesthood and other ceremonial laws listed there.
B. Persons: involved are God and Israel. God as party of the first part. Israel as party of the second part.
God is entering into this contract with Israel. I want you to see two passages. You should underline these in your Bible because these are just absolutely central to understanding God's plan and purposes for Israel and that is important for understanding things that are said later on in the Bible. As we have gone through our study of the Sermon on the Mount I have taken the view of the Sermon on the Mount that is not a majority view at all. I don't know if there is a majority view. There are a lot of views. But I have worked my way through it and had a lot of stimulating discussion with different pastors and different individuals. One of the things we have to understand is that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is giving the Divine interpretation of the Mosaic Law and righteousness. I mean the kind of righteousness that God expects from those who are going to be obedient to the Mosaic Law. Now is that righteousness that is expected from the Mosaic Law an imputed righteousness, which would relate to their justification? Or is it an experiential righteousness?
Now one of the important things to understand is that when God calls out Israel and redeems them from Egypt that is that redemption at the exodus that is analogous to salvation. Does God redeem them before or after He gives them the Law? He redeems them before He gives them the Law. He gives the Law to a redeemed people, which means it is not about how to get redeemed; it is about how redeemed people live. The whole purpose of the Law then is not related to imputed righteousness, but it is related to experiential righteousness, how the people in Israel should live. If they are obedient, God promises blessings to them. In Deuteronomy 28 and in the first part of Leviticus 26. If they are not obedient, if they are unrighteous, then God promises cursing and judgment. We will look at that as we go through the Age of Israel. So when God is calling out Moses to go to Pharaoh, He says in Exodus 4:22, "Then you," that is Moses, "shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says YHWH,' " the covenant God of Israel, " 'Israel is My son, My firstborn.'" So is God looking at Israel corporately as a nation as saved or unsaved? He looks at them as saved in this passage.
Now the other verse I want us to go to is found in Exodus 19 just before God gives them the Torah, Moses goes up to God on Mount Sinai. They have had the exodus event. They are across the Red Sea. They have gone down into the Sinai peninsula and gone to Mt. Sinai. Moses went up to God and God began to speak to them and the people said they did not want to speak with Him. They could not stand His voice. He blew out all the microphones we have on our mp3 recorders and we really can't get this down, so Moses, go up there and transcribe it. Exodus 19:3-6, "Moses went up to God and the LORD called to Him from the mountain and says, 'Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles wings, and brought you to Myself.' " That is their redemption. "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all peoples, for all the earth is Mine." Is He talking about justification or sanctification? Sanctification. Is He talking about the redemption of Israel or is He talking about how the redeemed people should live in order to realize the blessing of God? He is talking about how a redeemed people should live. He says, "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." That is a result of living in obedience. If they don't live in obedience then God is going to put them under judgment.
So the issue here isn't how to get saved or justified, but how a saved people live. Let's go back to the Mosaic Law. First of all the Scripture is Exodus 20-40 primarily. The persons are God and Israel. Let's talk about provisions.
C. Provisions (slide #16 continued)
1. There are actually 613 specific commandments. One of the reasons that in the second temple period, possibly first temple period, that they used a pomegranate as a decorative item on the robes of the high priest was that there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate. So they selected that as a symbolic reminder of the Law. So there are 613 specific commandments in the Law.
2. There was blessing for obeying it.
3. There was cursing for disobeying it.
4. There are substitutionary blood sacrifices for many sins; Day of Atonement, Leviticus 17:11. For other sins there was no sacrifice, but capital punishment instead.
5. The token of this covenant is the Sabbath, not circumcision, that is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. The sign of the Mosaic Covenant is Shavuot.
Somebody recently asked me this question, where did this go that we don't worship on Sabbath anymore? The reason is because of the Ten Commandments the only one that is not reiterated in the New Testament (NT) is the commandment to rest on the seventh day. After the resurrection of Christ the early Christians met on Sunday. Now when did they meet on Sunday? They probably met at night. How many people got Sunday off in the Roman Empire? None. In fact, this was a real problem for the Jews when they went out into captivity because here you get the Jewish people who are doing two really weird things: one is circumcision and that is a big. That is talked about a lot in the ancient world. They were really weird because they got circumcised. But then they didn't want to work one day a week. That was unheard of in the ancient world. They want to take Saturday off? Who are these people? And they are going to do what? They are going to go worship? Nobody else did that. So these things really distinguished them and made them unique. That is related to being a holy people.
The Mosaic Law is signified by the Sabbath. So the church met on Sunday. There is no mandate to meet on the first day. It is what they did and usually in the evening is or early in the morning. Question: The early Christians were Jewish, and they did rest on Saturday. Yet the early Christians were Jewish. So they were switching from Saturday to Sunday in their worship? Yes, they would meet on Sunday morning. I think very early in Acts they would meet early in the morning. They still had to work. If you are in Israel and you are Jewish they were still following a lot of the Law because that was their ethnicity, their history, their tradition, their background. They were not doing it for spiritual reasons. They did it because that was the Law. So they would only meet on Sunday morning or on Sunday night before work or after work. So that is when they would meet and in the early, early church, probably in those first chapters of Acts, they would meet early in the morning.
I am really glad that we don't do that anymore even though I am a morning person. You'll notice, I have never had a sunrise service. Even in my first church when they pressured me. I'm not getting up at 4:30 in the morning to preach a sermon to sleepy people at 5:30 a.m. I have never done that. What else? Well if they were still resting on Saturday but then going to work on Sunday? Yes, they did not have a five day work week like we do. Why do we have a five-day work week? Or why do we have a six-day work-week and have Sunday off? It is because of that Judeo-Christian heritage. The idea of not working everyday is a sign of that. Now one of the great points about this sabbatical law is that if you were to work six days. What is that? Exodus 20:11. For God says for just as I created work for six days and rest on the seventh. So you work for six days and you work. It was a mandate. There are like three or four commands in the Sabbath command and they are mandated to work six days a week. Many people miss that. They just think they are being mandated to rest on Saturday, but they are mandated to work six days a week and to rest on the seventh. Just as God did.
So the question is, if those days, which are patterned after the days of creation, if the days of creation weren't literal 24-hour days as we know them, then why can't you be justified in saying, well you know those days were just literary figures. That is a real popular teaching today. That that is just a literary structure in Genesis 1. Genesis 1 is not to be understood as literal six 24-hour consecutive days this is just a literary framework. But once again you get over into Exodus 20 and the mandate on the Sabbath if it is anything other than a literary framework then any Jew can come along and say, "I can make a lot more money if I don't have to take Saturday off. I am just going to work 24/7 because I don't have to stop because God didn't stop for a thousand years or two thousand or ten thousand or one hundred thousand. Those days were just ages. So I don't have to stop work until the 700,000th year and then I will take 100,000. Well I won't live that long so I can work my whole life." See it opens the door to actually a destruction of the language of that command. It is meaningless unless the prototype is a literal 24-hour six consecutive day creation week.
1. In relation to Israel the purpose of the Mosaic Law was to distinguish Israel from all of the people around them, Leviticus 11:42-44. The dietary laws were not given to make them healthy.
You will read that in books like the Maker's Diet. Health had nothing to do with this. Are there healthy benefits? Possibly. But that does not have anything to do with it. Why do I say that? Because in Acts 10 when God lowers the big table cloth with the big banquet of tref food, unclean food for Peter, and He said, "Eat." Nothing had changed other than the dispensation. Peter had not been instructed on how to cook it better. You know, the shrimp, the lobster, all the other scavenger food that was on that table cloth was still just as much a dietary problem as it was before, but God declared it was all clean at that point. So clean and unclean have nothing to do with diet. Always be careful of that because I have read this in so many books. Somebody always wants to know if we are going to live longer and healthier if we eat what Jesus ate. Well, you can't get that out of the Bible without distorting the text.
2. In relation to the Gentiles, now, the Scripture says that the Law had purposes in relation to the Gentiles. Ephesians 2:11 states that the Law was a wall of partition that kept the Gentiles away. It separated them.
You know we live in a world where we want to include everybody. But God's mandates and God's Word more often than not excludes people. The purpose for the Law was to keep the Gentiles away from the covenants and away from the privileges and blessings of the covenants according to Ephesians 2:11. The only way a Gentile could enter into those privileges was if he took on the obligations of the Law for himself and became a proselyte to Judaism.
3. In relation to sin, according to Romans 7:7-8:4.
a. The Law was to show what sin is. It was to give evidence of what sin is and how pervasive sin is. In Romans 7:7ff, through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
b. Second, it was to cause us to sin more. You just tell some kid not to do something and the first thing he wants to do is to do what he is told not to do. So by giving somebody 613 commandments, things not to do, then people just wanted to do it even more. So it aggravated sin.
c. Third, in relation to sin, the law was to show that a man can do nothing on his own to please God. Then man really can't fulfill the Law a hundred percent. He can fulfill parts of it, but not all of it. Parts of it all the time; all of it some of the time. But you have got to do it all all of the time or you haven't obeyed it.
d. Last, in relation to sin, it leads us to the Messiah, recognizing that the Law cannot be a basis for salvation.
The Mosaic Law is no longer in effect according to Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:15-19; Galatians 3:23-4:7; Hebrews 7:11-12; Hebrews 7:18; Ephesians 2:11-15; 2 Corinthians 3:3-11. (Repeats Scripture passages.)
E. Test: The test in the Mosaic Law is to obey the whole Law and to accept Messiah as the Prophet, Redeemer, the Seed of the woman according to Deuteronomy 18:15-19, the prophet that will come that is greater than Moses. That is clearly a Messianic prophecy. So they were to do the whole Law and they were to accept the Messiah as the Prophet, Redeemer, Who would deliver them from their sins.
1. But they failed. They failed to keep the Law according to Romans 10:1-3.
2. They failed to obey the Prophets according to 2 Chronicles 36:14-16; Jeremiah 25:4. They failed to obey the prophets.
3. They failed to accept the Messiah when He came, John 1:11. His people did not receive Him.
G. Judgments. As a result there are Judgments. We will look at the details of this in just a minute. There are five cycles or stages of judgment that God warned them they would go through if they were disobedient.
H. Grace. But there is still grace (see slide #20). In every dispensation there is Judgment and there is Grace.
1. In Grace God gave the sacrificial system for the restitution of the sinner. The primary purpose of the sacrifices was not salvation, but so that the saved person could be restored to fellowship and could worship the God of the covenant, the God who inhabited the temple or the tabernacle.
a. The Day of Atonement was given for the whole nation in Leviticus 23:26-32.
b. There was individual sacrifice given for the people, Leviticus 1-5.
2. The Messiah finally comes to Israel despite their sinfulness.
Now, I want to add a section. I haven't taught through this before in quite as much detail as this. Israel is viewed as a redeemed people. I think a lot of people have had trouble with this. We've dealt with this in many, many different ways. We've dealt with it in Revelation. We dealt with it in Hebrews. We are dealing with it in Matthew to some degree. That the Scriptures view Israel corporately as well as individual; as a collective whole as a nation as well as individual people. So corporately they are viewed as redeemed people. We also dealt with this a lot in Romans 9-11. Romans 9-11 is primarily dealing with Israel corporately and not individually (see slide #21–Israel Viewed Corporately as a Redeemed People). In Exodus 4:31, notice that you have Exodus 4:31 and Exodus 14:31, so that you can remember those because the only difference is those ten chapters later. Basically 4:31 in both of them.
After God sent Moses to the people, and Moses announces his mission to the people, what is their response? "The people believed"; amen. "The people believed, and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped." They believed and then they worshiped. This is the response of a saved people. Not one Jew died when God brought death to the firstborn in Egypt. They all believed about the Passover Lamb and applied the blood. They were all saved. Well, I can't say that they were all saved, but almost all of them because you might have a household of fifteen people who have the blood applied outside and there may be somebody inside who was there against their will, but generally speaking they were all believers.
Then in Exodus 14:31 we read, "Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses." The use of the word believed is significant throughout Exodus. (See slide #22–Israel Viewed Corporately as a Redeemed People.)
1. First of all it is the hiphil form of the verb amen. The hiphil form is the causative form and it has the sense of believe as the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) states, it "expresses genuine faith throughout the Old Testament." This is one of the key words to express faith.
2. Secondly, there are six occurrences of the word "believe," the hiphil of amen in Exodus 4:1; Exodus 4:5; Exodus 4:8 twice; Exodus 4:9; Exodus 4:31. Some of them are "they did not believe" and "they believed" so there is a contrast there; but it all "marks the faith of the people as a central theme of the chapter." (TWOT) They believed what God told them and what Moses told them God said.
3. The third observation is that the genuineness of their faith is marked not only by their initial worship, but also by their obedience in observing the Passover (see slide #24). They worship in Exodus 4 but it is after that the tenth plague comes later. So they initially believed; they worshiped and later they observed the Passover. They have believed God just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
4. The fourth thing is that the LORD promised them "salvation" from the Egyptians (see slide #25). Now it could be argued by someone that the salvation that God promised was just physical deliverance, but if you look at the rest of the context it is more than that, other words are used. Their response to the deliverance is again that they "believed," but here it is added that they believed "in the LORD." So it is not just physical deliverance. They are believing in Yahweh, which indicates an entrance and relationship or trust with the LORD. So they are viewed as saved, Exodus 15:13; Exodus 14:30-31.
5. Fifth we have the Song of Moses, which Miriam sings in Exodus 15 reciting the deliverance by God, which again uses the same word "salvation," Exodus 15:2 (see slide #26). It refers to their salvation, their being "redeemed," Exodus 15:13, and their being "purchased," Exodus 15:16. All of these are terms that are richly related to the concept of salvation.
6. Other Old Testament passages confirm that though they had sinned, God redeemed and forgave them (see slide #27). Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 78:38; Psalm 78:42; Psalm 99:8; Psalm 106:8; Psalm 106:10; Isaiah 63:9.
7. And then after they are delivered, redeemed from Egypt, then God gives them the Mosaic Covenant. This illustrates their redeemed status (see slide #28).
8. Their redeemed status is affirmed in Hebrews 11:29; Hebrews 11:39 (see slide #29).
9. Conclusion (see slide #30): The Law was given to define how a redeemed people were to live. It describes the experiential righteousness needed to remain in the land with God's blessing; otherwise, they would be removed.
XI. Dispensation of the Law (see slide #31–Dispensation 5: Law).
A. Scripture: Exodus 19:1-Acts 1:26.
Now the reason we do that is because that is when the church begins. Now what are we going to do with the Life of Christ? We will find that out when we get there. I will explain that when we get there. Nobody outside of Israel knew what was going on with Jesus. So it is one of those interesting little hinge type dispensations that last for three years or a little over three years; something different is happening in Israel, but if you are living in Turkey; if you are living in Italy; if you are living in Tarshish; if you are living in Babylon or in India and you are Jewish, you don't have a clue what is going on with Jesus of Nazareth in Israel, so every thing continues the same for you; but if you were living in Judea or Galilee, it was different. There was a new message; there is a new test; there is new revelation; there are new responsibilities; and there is a distinct failure.
E. Test: the test during the age of the Law was to do the whole Law; to accept Messiah as the Prophet, Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
1. They failed to keep the Law, Romans 10:1-3.
2. They failed to obey the Prophets, 2 Chronicles 36:14-16; Jeremiah 25:4.
3. They failed to accept the Messiah, John 1:11.
All of that is the Dispensation of the Law. Then we get to the five Judgments.
G. Judgments: Five cycles of discipline (See slide #34–Five Cycles of Discipline):
1. First cycle of discipline; these are all described in Leviticus 26:14-46 and Deuteronomy 28. The first cycle of disciple described in Leviticus 26:14-17 says that if they are disobedient God would bring:
a. Terror or fear upon them. They are going to have anxiety attacks.
b. He is going to bring disease upon them. It is not related to anything you can put in a laboratory and measure. You can't measure the cause and effect relationship between their failure spiritually and what happens medically. But God says there is a relationship. That is because there is something above the physical laws that is controlling things.
c. They are going to have stolen crops, which is equivalent to failure of their economy. They are going to lose the value of their money.
d. They would start being defeated by their enemies.
2. In the second cycle of discipline (see slide #35), Leviticus 26:18-20:
a. Pride: Their pride of power is broken; their economy is destroyed.
b. Drought: There will be a drought. In an agricultural environment this is a real tragedy.
Just think about all these people that are living out in west Texas. There are a number of communities in Texas right now that are within 45 days of running out of water. There are a number of other communities in Texas that are within 90 days of running out of water. Southern California is having a horrible drought. Now we have had droughts before. When did we have a drought before the Dust Bowl? Remember what happened before the Dust Bowl? The roaring 20s, great apostasy from liberalism in that time. This isn't the same. It is similar. The five cycles of discipline are for Israel, but there are similar patterns because God is not going to allow unjust people to disobey Him in a flagrant manner. So there are going to be similarities. But for Israel this is the second stage. There will be drought. The heavens will be like iron, the earth like bronze, and this means that it is going to be impossible to plant because the ground is so hard.
c. Bad harvest: they will have a bad harvest and work hard but have no results.
3. We get to the third cycle (see slide #36), Leviticus 26:21-22.
a. Plagues: there will be plagues; so there is an increase in disease. You have disease in the first stage and now it is going to be increased. Something painful is going to take place.
b. Violence: there is going to be an increase of violence from wild beasts. The curse is going to be intensified.
I find it so interesting that in the blessings sections God said I will take all the wild beasts out of the land. I will remove them. If you are disobedient I will bring them back. So what did we do in our worship of nature? We reintroduced the violent species back in, the wolves, bears, mountain lions, and all of those kinds of things out of our own arrogance. It is nothing more than idolatry.
4. The fourth cycle of discipline (see slide #37), Leviticus 26:23-26:
a. Sword: the sword will come, which means death by violence, violent death. God will bring military invasion into the land.
b. Flight for refuge: they will fly for refuge. They will gather together in their cities. They will leave their homes, leave their farms. They will seek shelter from the invaders.
c. Pestilence: there will be pestilence. Disease intensifies and spreads. There is massive death from all these people gathered together in the cities. The loss of sanitation.
d. Rationing: there will be food rationing. Ten women with one oven means that there is not going to be sufficient fuel in order to cook food. They will deliver bread by weight and that also indicates food rationing.
5. Fifth cycle of discipline (see slide #38), Leviticus 26:27; Deuteronomy 28:49-57.
a. Cannibalism: there will be cannibalism.
I just read this the other day in Josephus that there was a case as the armies of Titus were on the verge of breaking through the walls of Jerusalem in AD 70. Josephus tells a story of a mother who killed her baby and cooked it – cut the baby in half stored half of it for the next day. Well there was a smell and some scavengers came banging on the door wanting her food because they could smell that something was cooked. And she said that she would share with them and they were just repulsed by it. Word of this spread through the city. It is right out of Leviticus 26. It was a great testimony. This was God's judgment. It revolted Titus and the Romans. It was said that they wanted to destroy Jerusalem so that they would put an end to this kind of misery among the people. Even the pagans couldn't believe that they were killing their young in order to survive.
b. God promised there would be a destruction of the religions which were an abomination to God. The idolatry would be destroyed.
c. Cities would be destroyed.
d. Places of worship would be destroyed, the sanctuaries, the temple.
e. Utter desolation of the land.
f. People would be driven out of the land that had been promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would be dispersed among the nations.
This is the fifth cycle of discipline. It happened in 722 BC with the Assyrian invasion. It happened in 586 BC with the Chaldean invasion. And it happened in AD 70 with the Roman invasion. Probably not since 722 BC have there been as high a percentage of worldwide Jews living in the land of Israel as we have today. That has prophetic significance. I am not saying that it fulfills prophecy, but it has prophetic significance. This is unique. It has never happened. You did not have a return like that under Zerrubabel, Nehemiah, Ezra, none of them. It is unique. Any questions before I close? Nothing.
Let's close in prayer. "Father, thank you for this opportunity to look at this this evening, to reflect upon the Law, upon its purpose, and how You fulfilled Your promises both in terms of blessing when Israel was obedient, but especially in terms of the judgment as outlined in Leviticus 26, and how horrible and awful this was. Now Father, we recognize that all this was to teach us something and to instruct us and to prepare us for the coming of the Messiah and that as we look back in history we see how You worked all of this together to bring about that proper time, the fullness of time as Galatians 4:4 says of the arrival of the Messiah Who would take away the sins of the world. And Father, we pray that we might be challenged to the understanding of Your Word to go back and rethink how we understand the Law in terms of its significance, its purpose, its audience, the ones to whom it was given, Israel, and how that worked itself out. We can't understand the rest of the OT and much of the NT if we don't understand the Law correctly. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."