Summary: God’s purpose in the OT laws
“God the Lawgiver” - Exodus 19 - 2/6/05
If you have your Bibles, join me in turning to Exodus 19. Exodus, the second book in the Bible, describes the events in the exodus, in the exiting, in the departure of the Jews from Egypt. Looking back to where we have come so far, we saw God create man to enjoy community with him, but we saw sin separates man from God. Throughout the Bible we see God overcoming the sinfulness of man and calling him back into fellowship with a holy God. We saw God call Abraham forward in steps of faith, and Abraham’s faith was credited to him for righteousness. We saw God with Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, even in difficult times. He showed himself as a powerful deliverer. He called Moses to set his people free. He had heard their cries, and was concerned about them. He showed his power to Pharaoh and all Egypt, and brought his people out in triumph. After two months, Moses and the few million people with him end up at Mt. Sinai, the mountain where Moses had seen the burning bush and had talked with God.
Remember in Exodus 3:12, God had promised Moses he would return to the mountain. “And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” So, now Moses has returned to the mountain. Now we come to Exodus 19. READ Ex. 19:1-3
In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt--on the very day--they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:
Now, read together with me verses 4-8.
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now 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.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.
I. Understanding the covenant -
What we have here is a contract, a legal document. At the end of World War I and II there were different “treaties” signed. They set the conditions for how lands would be divided, what each country would do, and how the peace would be maintained. And treaties were very common 2000 years before Christ as well. In fact, this follows exactly a typical treaty of the Ancient Near East. They would start with a preamble, as we see in the summons by God in verse 3. Then they would go into a history of what had previously happened, as we see in verse 4. Next would be the stipulations of the covenant and the blessings that would follow, as we see in verse 5 & 6. Finally, the covenant would be adopted by an assembly of people, as we see in verse 7-8.
Remember when we talked about Abraham, we saw God binding himself in covenant with Abraham, and Abraham cuts up the animals, and God walks the path of blood. God was saying, “you may do this to me if I break the covenant.” Once again, God makes a covenant, this time with Moses and the children of Israel. And as God makes this covenant, God calls Moses up onto the mountaintop to give him all the details of the covenant.
In typical Near East covenants, each party, the greater and lesser, would come together, and a brief synopsis of the main points of the covenant was put on a tablet for each party to take back to their most holy place. As Moses goes up on the mount, the finger of God writes on two tablets of stone the 10 commandments, a summary of the main premise of God’s covenant with man. Moses takes both tablets back down the mountain. Very likely one tablet did not have five and the other tablet five, but each tablet probably had all ten commandments on them, and Moses brings BOTH back to the tabernacle. God is in this saying, YOUR holy place and MY holy place are the SAME!