Obey My Voice

Obey My Voice

The Foundation Stone

of the Mosaic Covenant

 

Before getting into Jeremiah’s Covenant Revelation (Jeremiah 30-33), we need to have some background information on God’s covenant plan with Israel.  Exodus 19:4-6 is the foundation stone for the Mosaic Covenant and Jeremiah agrees with this as we will later see.  However, God’s dealings with Israel go back much further than this.  This is one step in God’s covenant plan.  It began in the garden of Eden.  It continued through the Noahic Covenant with the establishment of nations.  Then with the Abrahamic Covenant, we see God’s plan to bless all nations, but also to call out one nation for Himself.  The Mosaic Covenant is the culmination of years of planning on God’s part.  He has commissioned Moses.  He has broken Egypt.  He has redeemed Israel with the blood of the Passover Lamb.  Now after all this, God initiates a covenant with the newborn nation of Israel.

 

Exodus 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 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; 6 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.

 

This is the sum total of the Mosaic Covenant, or the Covenant at Sinai:  Obey God’s voice and keep His covenant.  The law was later given, but the covenant was “Obey God’s voice”.  Notice the result if they obey.  They will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (the parallel in Deuteronomy 4:5-8 confirms this).  Notice what is NOT in the passage.  There is nothing here about entering the promised land.  God had declared to Abraham that his seed would inherit the land of Canaan.  This was a unilateral declaration by God.  There was no condition that God put upon these statements, Genesis 12:7, 15:17-21.  Notice how the Mosaic Covenant is also unilateral.  In Deuteronomy 5:2 it states that God made the covenant with Israel.  It was not a joint pact, but a decision by God to initiate a relationship with the nation of Israel.  In order to understand the conditional portion of the covenant, we need to examine the Palestinian Covenant, see Deuteronomy 29:1 and surrounding context.

 

Deuteronomy 30:1 "And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, 2 and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5 And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

 

Sometimes Bible scholars differentiate between conditional covenants and unconditional covenants.  We need to be careful not to tread upon God’s promised intentions.  God has promised that the nation of Israel will inherit the promised land.  The Palestinian Covenant declares that Israel must obey God’s voice in order to remain in the land.  Yet even when Israel breaks the covenant, it is foretold that God will still accomplish His plan to bring them back and restore them under new terms, Deuteronomy 30:1-10.  So God’s plan for Israel to dwell in the land is unconditional.  Either Israel obeys God’s voice and dwells in the land, or they disobey God and await His future timing to bring them back.  Either way they participate in one capacity or another.  Genesis 12:7 and Genesis 15:17-21 remain unconditional in the sense that God will ultimately accomplish His goal even after Israel disobeys and is removed from the land.

 

Let’s insert one more important step in here before we proceed.  Even at Sinai, God had foretold that the nation of Israel would break the covenant that they were making with Him.  In Leviticus 26, God lays out the future concerning Israel’s sojourn in the promised land.  It is in the form of “if you do this, then I will do this.”  If you (Israel) walk contrary to Me (God), then I will walk contrary to you and scatter you among the nations, Leviticus 26:27-33.  After this punishment by the LORD, if Israel confesses their sin, then God will remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and will remember the land.  This was all spoken while Israel was still at Mount Sinai, Leviticus 26:46.  Later, as Israel was poised to enter the promised land, God established the Palestinian Covenant which uses Leviticus 26 as a blueprint.  Here in Deuteronomy 29, God makes another covenant alongside the covenant which He made at Sinai.  It states in no uncertain terms that Israel will abandon the covenant of the LORD.  God will scatter them in His anger but later when they return to Him and obey Him; then God will accomplish certain things.  This is not “if – then”; this is pure prophecy.  This should lead us to see that Leviticus 26 is also prophecy since it is foundational to the covenant plan of God’s dealings with Israel.  In Leviticus 26 God made provision for Israel’s unbelief; then in Deuteronomy 30 God predicted Israel’s unbelief.

 

The new terms under which God would continue His covenant relationship with the nation of Israel are listed in Deuteronomy 30:1-10.  First Israel as a nation repents; then God responds.

 

He restores their fortunes

He will have compassion on Israel

He will regather them even from heaven (the second exodus)

Israel will possess the land

He will curse the enemies of Israel

He will make Israel prosperous in the fruit of their womb, fruit of their land, fruit of their cattle, and work of their hands

He will circumcise their heart (and their offspring)

 

The circumcision of the heart of the nation of Israel results in what I see as the new terms of God’s relationship with Israel after their repentance.  This transformation of the nation of Israel allows them to love the LORD God with all their heart as commanded in Deuteronomy 6:5.  It also gives Israel the ability to obey the law which God had commanded at Sinai and in Deuteronomy.  So after Israel transgresses the covenant, then God brings punishment upon them, then Israel repents, now they continue in a new relationship with the LORD which they had previously not experienced.  They will be transformed by God to be able to keep the law.  The greatest commandment to love the LORD with all their hearts is listed specifically here, but the entire law is mentioned as well.  This background should allow us to examine a couple of key passages in Jeremiah.

 

Jeremiah 7:21 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them: Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 27 "So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.

 

29 "’Cut off your hair and cast it away;

raise a lamentation on the bare heights,

for the LORD has rejected and forsaken

the generation of his wrath.’

 

The truth of obedience to the voice of God as the terms of the Mosaic Covenant is brought out in Jeremiah 7:21-29.  There is no doubt that this passage is referring specifically to Exodus 19:4-6.  The covenant consists of Israel in obedience to God’s voice and in return being in covenant relationship with Him.  So our foundation stone is in the right place.  Now we need to take care as to how we develop our covenant theology concerning the Mosaic Covenant on that stone.

 

Jeremiah 11:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 "Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 3 You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant 4 that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, 5 that I may confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day." Then I answered, "So be it, LORD." 6 And the LORD said to me, "Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. 7 For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. 8 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not." 9 Again the LORD said to me, "A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. 11 Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.

 

We must also examine Jeremiah 11:1-13.  Jeremiah placed these prophecies toward the beginning so that when the covenant revelation [in Jeremiah 30-33] was presented, the reader would understand the significance of this new revelation in relation to past revelation.  Not only is the term “covenant” used prevalently throughout this passage, the transgression of the covenant is presented as well.  Here God is making His case that Israel has clearly broken the covenant.  He is giving the entire nation ample warning that they are to be evicted fair and square from the promised land.  Jeremiah 7 brings out the fact that God had been sounding the warning long before the ministry of Jeremiah.  Every prophet He sent them had the same basic mission.  You can read their words in Hosea, Amos, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk. 

 

So we see in Jeremiah 11 a direct connection to the punishment mentioned in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68.  The disaster announced at hand here is the disaster which was foretold back then.  Jeremiah knew that other nations would see that this great punishment was inflicted on them from their own God, the God of Israel, Deuteronomy 29:24-28, see also Jeremiah 40:1-3.

 

Here’s the point I’m dying to make.  Jeremiah also knew that the promises of Deuteronomy 30 would be fulfilled as well.  He certainly knew of a future Israel which would repent and have its heart circumcised by the LORD.  He knew of a future regathering of the nation of Israel.  He knew that Israel’s relationship with God was eternal based on God’s covenant plan.  Jeremiah 30-33 is simply a further revelation of what had been previously revealed in the Palestinian Covenant.  While Jeremiah’s Covenant Revelation gives us new details in the covenant plan of God, it is based on previous revelation since the Bible is progressively revealed.

 

I believe that Jeremiah 30-33 contains the new terms of the nation of Israel’s covenant relationship with the God of Israel.  These new terms were briefly mentioned in Deuteronomy 30:1-10 as part of the Palestinian Covenant.  They are now more fully revealed to Jeremiah at this pivotal point in Israel’s history.

 

More to come.

 

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

 

-The Orange Mailman

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2 Responses to Obey My Voice

  1. Pingback: Jeremiah’s Covenant Revelation ~ Links | The Orange Mailman

  2. Pingback: Matthew the New Wineskin (I desire mercy and not sacrifice) | The Orange Mailman

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