We have now come to a very solemn point in the inspired narrative of God’s dealings with His people. Nearly three months had passed since the Hebrews had been brought out of Egypt, and they were now encamped in the wilderness at the foot of Mount Sinai. When the Lord had sweetened the bitter waters of Marah, He had made a covenant with them – promising them that if they would listen to His voice, do what was right in His sight, and obey all His commandments; then He would put none of the evil diseases of Egypt upon them. And now the time had come for Him to publish His holy law, and to make them know what His commandments were. The law of God had been written in Adam’s heart, when he was made pure and holy by his Creator; but he disobeyed it and became a sinner. At that time, both the power and the will to keep the law were lost. But even though he had fallen under the curse, Mankind was taught to look to the coming Savior, Who was foreshadowed by the bleeding animal sacrifices that he was to offer. This coming Savior was the only way by which sinners could be brought back to a right relationship with God. But as time rolled on and the children of men grew more and more wicked, the Lord determined to choose a people for Himself, who would be separated from the world. He did this so that He might teach them, and so that He might give them His holy law again; and they would become an example, a warning, and a lesson-book for the Christian Church in the ages to come. Therefore, we ought to pay careful attention to these things, and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us to a right understanding of the Lord’s ways and Word!
Moses was called up to the mountain, and he was employed as the messenger of this covenant that God was making with His people. The Maker of the covenant was the Lord Himself, and the blessed charter was granted out of His own free grace. By this covenant, the Hebrews were established as a nation under the government of Jehovah. But, like other pictures and symbols, it was only a shadow of good things that were yet to come; for it was a picture of the New Covenant that is made with all true believers in Jesus. As a nation, the Jews broke this covenant; therefore, the Lord declared that He would make a new and better Covenant with His people – writing His law, not upon tables of stone, but in their hearts (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:7-10).
Without careful and prayerful study of these things, we may fall into mistakes when we read the Old Testament. We must not suppose that the Jews were under a covenant of works that was empty of repentance, grace, faith in a Mediator, or forgiveness of sins. Nor must we think that the entire nation of Israel exemplified the character and possessed the privileges of true believers and sharers in the covenant of grace. They were all under a covenant of mercy, and they had outward privileges and advantages for salvation. But sadly, many of them rested therein and went no further.
The solemn manner in which the people were to prepare themselves for the receiving of God’s law, and the awe-inspiring manner in which that law was delivered, was to impress the people with a proper view of the majesty of Jehovah. It was also to convince them of their own guilt and pollution, and to show them that no human being can stand before God by any act of their own merit or obedience.
In the law, the sinner discovers what he ought to be, and how he has fallen short of that perfect standard. There he also learns the nature, necessity, and glory of redemption. So the awakened sinner asks, “What must I do to be saved?” And he hears, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!” The Holy Spirit, Who made the law to convince us of sin, then takes the things of Christ and shows them to us. In the Gospel, we read that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. We have redemption and forgiveness of sins through His blood. Through Him, we are justified from all the things from which the law of Moses could never set us free. But we are not then permitted to live however we please. The Divine law is still binding as a rule of life. The Son of God came down from heaven and suffered poverty, shame, agony, and death – not only to redeem us from the curse of the law, but also to bind us more closely to keep its commandments. Therefore, after the sinner has been taught to flee to Christ and to love Him, the law becomes the rule and standard of his obedience and faith.
Lord Jesus! We give You unceasing thanks for becoming our precious, blessed, holy, law-fulfilling, and law-satisfying Redeemer! You have answered all the law’s demands, and so You have become the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. You have redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; and now we are permitted to enjoy the privilege of drawing near to our holy God and Father, clothed in Your blood and righteousness. Blessed be Your name! The boundary which kept the people back has been removed. We do not come to the mount which burned with fire. Rather, we come to our Lord Jesus, Who is the Mediator of the new and better covenant. O for the constant leadings of the Holy Spirit, so that we may constantly draw near in this new and living way, until we shall arrive before the throne of God and the Lamb in heaven! Amen.
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