Morning Sermon: Exodus 19, The Mosaic Covenant Proposed

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 19

“On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.’ So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.’ When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.’ So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, ‘Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.’ On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.’ And Moses said to the LORD, ‘The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.’ So Moses went down to the people and told them.” (Exodus 19, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:18–29, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


The text that is before us today is rather lengthy. I went back and forth in my mind wondering if I should preach Exodus 19  in two or three parts, or all at once. As you can see, I’ve decided to preach it all at once. And the reason is so we might better appreciate the unity of this passage. For although the story of Exodus 19 could be divided into two or three parts, it really tells one story. 

And the story that is told in Exodus 19 is very important. Here we have a record of the LORD beginning to call the nation of Israel into a special covenantal relationship with himself. I said, “beginning”, because the story of God establishing this covenant with the nation of Israel starts here in Exodus 19, but it does not conclude until the end of Exodus 24. So, from the beginning of Exodus 19 through to the end of Exodus 24 we learn about the establishment of the Old Mosaic Covenant. 

In chapter 19 the covenant is proposed. In chapters 20 through 23:19, we find covenant laws. In 23:20-33 we will find a promise concerning covenant land, the land of Cannan. And in chapter 24 the covenant is finally confirmed. So then, Exodus 19-24 describes God entering into a covenant with the nation of Israel. All of this happened as Israel encamped at the base of Mt. Sinai, as Moses went up on the mountain, and as the glory of God descended on the mountain as a consuming fire. In chapter 19, which is our text for today, the covenant is introduced, or proposed. 

An illustration may be helpful here. Think for a moment about the marriage covenant? When is a marriage covenant established or made? It is made on the wedding day when a man and woman stand before God and witness and make vows to one another. That is when the covenant is confirmed. On that day, and not beforehand. But as you know, rarely will a man and woman get married spontaneously on the spur of the moment. No, before the wedding day there will be a proposal and an engagement period. And even if the engagement period is very brief, it will involve planning and preparation, not only for the wedding itself but also for the marriage.

I think this illustrates what is happening here in Exodus 19 through 24. In Exodus 24, the covenant between the LORD and Israel will be confirmed. It is the wedding day, if you will. But in Exodus 19 the covenant is proposed. Again, in chapters 20-23 we find laws and promises which bring clarity concerning the terms of the ongoing relationship between the LORD and Israel. I suppose we may compare this to the engagement or betrothal period wherein a couple makes preparations for marriage. 

If I may push this illustration just a little further, rarely does a couple get married spontaneously or instantaneously, and neither do couples typically get engaged spontaneously either. No, often there is a significant relationship that in time leads to a proposal, and then to marriage. And in a similar way, YHWH’s proposal and covenantal union with Isreal did not appear out of the blue either. No, there was a very significant relationship – in fact, it too was a covenantal relationship – that existed between the two going back to the days of Abraham. 

It is important for us to remember that before the LORD entered into a covenantal relationship with Israel in the days of Moses, he made a covenant with Abraham wherein he promised to, among other things, bless him with many offspring, to give him the land of Cannan, and to make him into a kingdom. You may read all about the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, and 17. I’ll spare you the details, for we considered these things when we studied Genesis. For now, I only wish to remind you that when God redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage, led them into the wilderness, and entered into this covenant with them, all of it was in fulfillment of promises previously made. These were the children of Abraham, remember. These were the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (or Israel). The covenant that God made with the people of Israel in the days of Moses was in fulfillment of covenant promises previously made. As you can see, the story that is told in Genesis and Exodus – indeed, the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation – is one unified story. 

As I have said, the text that is before us today is rather long. But I believe I can explain the meaning of it in three parts. One, we must consider the parties of this covenant. Two, we must consider the terms of this covenant. And three, we must consider the purpose of this covenant. 



First, let us consider the parties, or participants, involved in this covenant. 

YHWH is the first participant in this covenant. It was YHWH who proposed this covenant and set its terms. The text is clear about this. Look at verse 2. ​​“[Isael] set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel…’”, etc.

Covenants always involve at least two parties. Covenants are agreements, after all. It takes two to make an agreement. And yes, YHWH was indeed a participant in this covenant – he was one of the parties involved. But here I am drawing your attention to the fact that, though he was a participant, this does not mean that he stood on equal ground with those he entered into covenant with. And this is true of all of the covenants that God has made with man. When two men make a covenant with each other, it is possible that they stand on an equal plane with each other and initiate the covenant mutually. Not so in the covenants that God makes with man. It is God who initiates and sets the terms, and man must reciprocate. Never is it the other way around. The reason for this is obvious. God is God. He is supreme over all his creation. God is not obliged to give man anything (except justice, which is in keeping with his nature). But man is obliged to give God everything, for God is the Creator and Redeemer, and man is his creature.

In other words, never has man been in a position to initiate a covenant with God. This was true even before man fell into sin. It is certainly true afterward. When we consider the covenants that God has made with man in history we must confess that, though God is a participant, he is always the one to initiate and to set the terms. He initiated the covenant that was made with Adam in the garden of Eden. He set the terms of it. He established the rewards for obedience and the curses for disobedience. In the covenant that was made with Adam, Adam could only respond. The same may be said of the covenant that God transacted Abraham, with David, and with all of his elect in the New Covenant. It is the LORD who initiates. It is LORD who establishes the terms, for he is God, and we are his creatures. 

You can see, then, that there is a sense in which all of God’s covenants are gracious. No, I’m not denying that the covenant that God made with Adam in the garden was the Covenant of Works, nor am I denying that this covenant which we are considering today was a covenant of works (more on that in a moment). But I am observing that all of God’s covenants are rooted in the kindness of God. They are gracious and kind, for God is not obliged to enter into covenant with man. He is not duty-bound to offer us anything beyond justice. But God is merciful, gracious, and kind. He has stooped down and has entered into covenants with man wherein he offers his creatures something more than what they have by nature. 

The LORD is the first party in this covenant. And who is the other party? Answer: In the days of Moses, YHWH entered into covenant with the people of Israel. This is apparent throughout this text, but especially in verse 7 where we read, “So Moses came and called the elders of the people [of Israel] and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people [of Israel] answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do’” (Exodus 19:7–8, ESV). So then, the parties of this covenant were YHWH and Israel. 

This covenant that the LORD made with Israel is sometimes called the Mosaic covenant. It is called this, not because the covenant was made with Moses, but through him. Moses was the mediator of this covenant. This too is very apparent in our text. The LORD spoke to Israel through Moses. It was Moses who went up on the mountain, spoke with God face to face, as it were, and then came back down again to deliver the word of LORD to the people. Moses was God’s great prophet and priest. He was God’s servant, the mediator of the Old Covenant. The LORD redeemed Israel and entered into covenant with them through Moses

You know, this observation that the Mosaic covenant was made between the LORD and Israel may seem very basic, but if we forget this then we are bound to make great errors in our interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures. Look at where we are in the scriptures. We are only at Exodus 19. We are still near the beginning of the story of the Bible. Nearly everything that is written in the Old Testament Scriptures from this point forward took place within the context of the Old Mosaic covenant and the kingdom of Israel which was established and governed by this covenant. 

Think of it. The book of Genesis tells us about the kingdom of creation. It also reveals to us the Covenant of Works that God made with Adam in the garden (which he broke), as well as the covenant of common grace which the LORD made with all creation in the days of Noah. These two covenants – the Adamic and the Noahic – govern the kingdom of creation. But Genesis also tells us about the covenant that God made with Abraham. The LORD called Abraham out from the nations and promised to make a great nation from his offspring. This nation that would come from him would bless all nations, for, from this nation, the Messiah would emerge. This is why some have called the book of Genesis the prologue to the rest of the Old Testament. Genesis tells the back story. But as you can see, in only a few pages, everything comes to focus on the Kingdom of Israel and on the Old Mosaic Covenant which governed that Kingdom. Again, almost everything that is written from this point onward was written in the context of Old Covenant Israel who lived under the Mosaic Covenant, which is established here in Exodus 19 through 24. If we miss or forget this, we will make terrible in our interpretation and application of the Old Testament scriptures from this point onward. 

Before moving on to consider the terms and purpose of this covenant, it would be good for us to take a moment to reflect upon the kindness of God to enter into covenants with man so that we might give him praise. 

I ask you, what does God gain by entering into covenants with man? Answer: nothing at all! The reason for this is simple. It is impossible for God to gain anything, for he is the fullness and source of all life and blessedness. He is the Eternal, Almighty, and Unchanging One. This is what the Apostle means when asks, “who has given a gift to [the Lord] that he might be repaid?” The implied answer is, no one. And then Paul explains why, saying, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:35–36, ESV).

What does God gain by entering into covenants with man? Nothing at all! Who benefits then? His creatures benefit! When the LORD transacted the Covenant of Works with Adam in the garden he offered Adam and his descendants life-abundant, life-eternal, life in glory should he go on living in perfect, exact, and perpetual obedience to the terms of the covenant. Who would have benefited if that covenant were kept? Not God, but Adam and the whole human race in him. And who was to benefit from the covenants that God entered into with Abraham and his descendants, with Israel in the days of Moses, and with David and his descendants?  Well, the answer is twofold, for these covenants all have a dual nature to them. On the one hand, the physical descendants of Abraham would be blessed in the land and in an earthly way should they keep the terms of these three covenants that God transacted with them. On the other hand, all of the spiritual children of Abraham would be blessed spiritually and for all eternity in the new heavens and earth. And who are the true children of Abraham? They are those who have believed in the promised Messiah. They are not only Hebrews but also Gentiles. This is what Paul so clearly teaches in Romans 8 and 9, and in Galatians 3. This is what Jesus himself taught in John 8. Romans 9:8 is very clear. There Paul says, “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring” (Romans 9:8, ESV). 

So, back to my question. Who are the beneficiaries of these covenants that God made with the Hebrews in the days of Abraham, Moses, and David? Earthy speaking, the Israelites, the physical descendants of Abraham, would be blessed in the land should they obey God and keep the terms of these covenants. This would also be true of anyone who wished to join themselves to Israel physically. Spiritually speaking, it is all who have faith in the unconditional promises made to Abraham concerning the Messiah who would, in the fulness of time, bless the nations by paying the price of our sins, accomplishing our eternal redemption, defeating the Evil One, and undoing his work. Of course, the Messiah has come. He has fulfilled the promises previously made. This is why the Old Covenant has passed away. It has been fulfilled. Now, the Kingdom of Heaven is here with power. It is the New Covenant that governs this Kingdom which has Christ as Lord. And who are the beneficiaries of this new covenant? Again, it is not God, but man. It is all who have turned from their sins and have placed their faith in Jesus the Messiah who is freely offered to them in the gospel, not from the Jews only, but people from every tongue, tribe, and nation.  

The point is this: God’s grace is truly marvelous. He is kind to his creatures. He blesses us with earthly blessings, and he offers us spiritual and eternal blessings too, all through Israel’s precious Messiah. 



Let us not fix our minds back upon the covenant that God transacted with Israel through Moses. Who were the parties or participants? The LORD and Israel were. Moses was the mediator.  But what were the terms of this covenant? 

Covenants always involve terms. When men make covenants with one another, they first agree upon the terms. Listen carefully to the wedding vows that people make in the marriage ceremony. Those vows are important, for they summarize the terms of the covenant that the two are entering into. If you finance a house or a car, you will enter into a kind of covenant. The lender will offer to loan you money for a certain time and for a certain interest rate. And you, the borrower, will agree to pay the loan amount back plus interest in a timely manner according to the terms of the loan. If one of the parties of the covenant (or contract) fails to uphold their end of the bargain, then the covenant is broken, and there are consequences. Even these consequences are spelled out and agreed upon ahead of time.

Here is the point. All covenants have terms. The two (or more) parties make commitments to each other. And the rewards for keeping the terms, and the consequences for breaking the terms, must be clearly communicated ahead of time. And so it is here with the covenant that God made with Israel through Moses. 

What are the terms of this covenant? They are sumarized in 19:5-6 where the LORD speaks to Israel through Moses, saying, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” (Exodus 19:5–6, ESV)

What were Israel’s obligations?  They were to obey God voice. They were to keep the covenant. Well, what laws were they to obey? What standards were they to keep? As I have said, we will find covenant laws in chapters 20 through 23:19. There we find the Ten Words, or commandments, which are summary of God’s moral law. There we also find civil laws and ceremonial laws. The section is very brief. But the books of Leviticus and Deuternomy will pick up where Exodus leaves off to greatly expand upon these laws. Here in Exodus 19 the LORD states terms very succinctly. Again, the LORD said, “if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5–6, ESV).

What would be the reward for Israel’s obedience? They would be the LORD’s “treasured possession among all peoples.” In other words, the LORD’s blessing would be upon them. What would be the punishment for their disobediece? It is implied that the LORD would cast them off. What is stated succinctly and implied here in Exodus 19 is stated more thoroughly in other places. For example, listen to Deuteronomy 11:13–17. There Moses speaks to Israel, saying, “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 11:13–17, ESV)

So what was Israel’s side of the deal? In brief, they were to obey God and keep the terms of the covenenat. If they obeyed, they would be blessed. If they disobeyed they would be cursed. And what were God’s obligations to Israel? Simply put, having entered into this covenant he was obligated to have Israel as his ”treasured possession among all people” would they keep their commitments. 

You may be thinking to yourself, well, what about the promises the LORD has made to Israel concerning the land of Cannan, the people being as the sand of the seashore, and of kings arising from them? What about the promises of God concerning the Messiah? Wasn’t the LORD obligated to keep those promises too no matter if Israel was obedient or disobedient? The answer is, yes. Those were unconditional promises that God made to Abraham. They would surely come to pass no matter what the people did, or failed to do. 

But here we see that the blessings of the Mosaic covenant were conditioned upon obedience. This was a natural outgrowth of the conditional elements of the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 17.   

Now would probably be a good time to ask the question, what are the terms of the New Covenant which God has made with his elect? If the terms of the Old Covenant were obey and be blessed in the land, what are the terms of the New? What must we do to be blessed under the New Covenant? The answer is that we must believe in the promised Mesiah. We must trust, not in our own good works, but in the work that he has accomplished for us. The blessings of the New Covenant are indeed conditioned upon obedience. The difference is that they they are condition, not upon our obedience, but upon the obedience of Chirst lived for us, died for us, and rose for us. 

As you can see, the Old and New Covenants are very different. They are not unrelated, mind you. But the terms are very different. Old Covenant Israel would be blessed in the land if the obeyed. Through the New Covenant we bless now and for eternity by placing our faith in Christ who was obedient to the point of death for us. The Old Covenant was a covenat of works, but the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace.  

That most famous of all Bible verses communicated the terms of the New Covenant well when it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). How do we escape the curse of sin? How do we come to have eternal life? By believing in God’s Son who was given up for us.

I think also of what Jesus said in response to the question that the Jews asked him in the wilderness. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent’” (John 6:28–29, ESV).

And what about that wonderful passage in Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV). How do we come to be saved? It is by God’s grace recieved by faith, and even this faith is a gift from God. 

The New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace. In this covenant God has committed to give eternal life to all who trust in Jesus the Mesiah and in the work that he has accomplished for them. The Old Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of works. In that covenant God committed to bless Israel in the land provided that they obeyed him and held up their side of the deal. 

Please alow me to briefly mention two common misunderstandings about the Mosaic covenant. 

One, there are some (even many) within the Reformed tradition who call the covenant that God made with Israel through Moses an administration of the Covenant of Grace. I do understand why they have this impulse. They  see that God’s grace was present and active in these days. They see that the  promise concerning the comeing Messiah was contained within this covenant. But when we consider the terms of this covenant, it clearly is a covenant of works – a covenant was could, and would, be broken. Blessings in the land were conditioned upon the obedience of Israel. Was God’s saving grace present in the days of Moses? Was the forgiveness of sins possible? Were heavenly and eternal blessing communicated to people in those days? Yes! But these blessings were not communicated by virtue of the Old Covenant, but of the New. These eternal blessings came to all who beleved the promise concerning the Messiah. But here is the key: promises are about things that will be done in the future. Promises are about things to come. Those who lived under the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and David covenants were not saved from their sins and blessed with eternal life through those the terms covenants – no such things is offered in those covenants! No, those who lived under the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and David covenants were  saved from their sins and blessed with eternal life by believing in the promise of God concerning the Messiah who, from their perspective, would one day come. In other words, they were saved by the same Jesus that you and I are saved by, and by the terms of the New Covenant, which is substantially the Covenant of Grace. 

The second common misunderstanding about the Mosaic covenant is that it offered life eternal to Isael through law keeping. In fact, it did not. Life eternal was offred to Adam through law keeping, but not to Israel. What was offered to Israel should they obey God’s voice and keep his law? Blessings on earth and in the land that God would give them. That is all. Did some in Jesus’ time misunderstand this? Yes, many thought the could earn salvation through law keeping, but they were wrong. Paul wrote things like this to set them straight: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20, ESV). Its been this way since the fall. Men and women can only stand just or right before God by his grace through faith in the promised Messiah, not through obedience to the law, for all have sinned having violated his law in thought, word and deed.

So what were the terms of the Mosaic covenant? Israel would be blessed by God in the land if they obeyed his voice. That principle is stated in a very brief way here, and it will be amplified in the Exodus chapters 20-24, and especially the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  



Lastly, let us consider the purpose of the Mosaic Covenant. I suppose this could be a sermon all it’s own, but I will be brief. We will have opportunities to elaborate upon this theme in future sermons, I’m sure. 

When the LORD redeemed Israel from Egypt, entered into this covenant with them, and brought them into the promised land of Cannan, he created a holy nation, governed by holy laws, in a holy land.

God would dwell in the midst of this people in a special way, and they would be invited to commune with him. The worship of God would be central to the life of this people. Holy prophets, priests, and kings would serve amongst them. This nation was set apart from all of the other nations of the earth as holy. They were live for the glory of God and were invited to enjoy his presence. In other words, in Old Covenant Isael the kingdom of God was prefigured on earth. 

So there was a purpose for Israel as Israel under the Old Covenant. They were to worship God. They were to receive, keep, and obey his word. They were guard the precious and very great promises that were entrusted to them. They were invited to commune with God, to enjoy his blessings, and sing his praises. 

But here I wish to draw your attention to another purpose for Israel under the Old Covenant. They were serve the world priests. Again, in verse 5 the LORD speaks to Israel, saying “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’” (Exodus 19:5–6, ESV). What did priests do except offer up sacrifices and prayer on behalf of the people. They functioned as intermediaries between God and man. And Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests. They, as a nation, were function as intermediaries between God and the world. Did you here the little remark that the LORD made? “For all the earth is mine”, he said. All nations belong to him, not just Israel. But Israel was set apart as the LORD’s treasured possession for a time to be a kingdom of priests. Under the Old Covenant they were to call the nations to come and worship YHWH and to believe in his promised Messiah. And in the fulness of time the Messiah would emerge from them. In other words, God would use Israel to “offer up” the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus the Christ is the true Israel of God, the son of Abraham, the son of David, our great Prophet, Priest, and King.

What was God’s purpose for Old Covenat Israel? There were many purposes. Some were immediate. But the supreme purpose was to bring the Messiah into the world who defeat the Evil One and earn our salvation. His name is Jesus Christ. He is the only mediator between God and man.  



With all of that said, I think you would agree with me that this passage is very significant, for here the Old Mosaic Covenant is proposed to Israel by the LORD. He establishes the terms. He states the purpose. It is no wonder, then, that the people were called to consecrate themselves and were moved to such reverantial fear of the LORD. This was a vary serious thing. 

Let me know conclude, brothers and sisters, by reminded you of what the writer to the Hebrews said in that passage that was read at the beginning. We who live now under the New Covenant of Grace have come to something even greater – something which cannot be shaken. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28–29, ESV)

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