Saturday, April 30, 2011

Preservation of the Covenant

You know, I had big plans of this covenant bible study going through finals and all that jazz.
It didn't happen. Somehow, my life got a wee bit too busy. Something called Quantitative Methods and American Lit, and Survey of the Hebrew Scriptures got in the way. Um, oops.
So, we're back at it. I have big plans to finish this. Promise cross my heart.

Moses is our man today. 
As I talked about on Day 2, God always remembers His people and never forgets them. Exodus 2:24 reads, "So God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." When a new Pharaoh came to town and enslaved the Israelites because he saw them as a threat, because they were multiplying in number, God steps in and rescues his people from the Egyptians. He sent this guy named Moses. But, before I get ahead of myself here, I better back up and tell you how we got to this point.
So, God told Abraham and his people to "be fruitful and multiply". So, they took that as a sign that they should have a bunch of babies. And while Joseph was in power, that was a-okay. I mean, he was BFFs with the king and all. But, then Joseph died and a new king came to power. This king wasn't too fond of all the Israelites. He feared that they would revolt and try and take over Egypt, so he enslaved them and killed all of their male children. Well, one day, Moses's mom gave birth to Moses. But, rather than telling everyone about him (and thus having him be thrown into the Nile) she kept him hidden away. She hid him for three months. But, it became to hard to hide the child, so she placed him in a little basket and put it in the river in the reeds. Miriam, Moses's sister, was to watch him to see what happened. Pharaoh's daughter was walking into the river to bathe when she came across the basket. She saw Miriam and sent her to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. She said, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages." This showed God's provision to Moses's mother, and it showed how God was planning on doing something big with Moses's life.
So, Moses grows up. Sees God in a burning bush. And tells Pharaoh to let his people go. Pharaoh says no. God sends some plagues, kills some firstborn sons. The Israelites cross the Red Sea. You get the idea. Let's fast-forward a bit. Moses goes up to Mt Sinai to get the 10 Commandments from God (It's kind of a big deal). On the first day, we talked about how part of the covenant was that there were sanctions. These sanctions were rules that had to be followed. The 10 Commandments are the ones that we refer to the most, but there were also lots of other laws that God gave the Israelites during this time via Moses. He gave these rules for a reason. With that many people living together, certain behaviors had to be prohibited for the sake of community. If one person in the community began to sin, other people might also begin to sin. That is why the rules were so strict. After the law had been read, Exodus 24:7 says that "Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said,'All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.'" 
Then Moses gets a covenant with God. Just as we talked about the Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, and the Abrahamic Covenant, there's also a Mosaic Covenant. God tells Moses in Exodus 24:10, "Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you." Later in verse 27, God says, "Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." By entering into a covenant, it shows that God isn't just interested in the Israelites "following the rules or else". Rather, he wants a relationship. It's a mutual thing. It's not an ultimatum, it's a promise that things will be better if you do things they way he asks. He knows the greater good for the Israelites. I mean, he's bringing them to the Promised Land!
We know how the story goes. Even though we would think that the Israelites would jump on board and follow everything...we know they don't. Apparently, even though God can part the Red Sea, send manna, and lead them through the desert with pillars of fire and clouds...the Israelites still think they know better than God. So, they rebel against his law. There's consequences (i.e. they don't get to enter the Promised Land and must wander in the desert for 40 years). But, God doesn't forget them, and God doesn't forget his covenant with Moses. In Leviticus 26: 42-45, God says, 

Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. But,the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes.Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.
We're never too far from God. He saved Moses even though Pharaoh was killing all the baby boys. He called to Moses through a burning bush and took care of all of Moses's excuses (by sending Aaron). He led the Israelites out of Egypt (and parted the Red Sea). He gave them the law to preserve their community, but even when they broke the law, he didn't break the covenant. When he walked through the fire to ratify the covenant with Abraham, he knew that he was taking responsibility. He remembered the Israelites even thought they forgot him. Even now, he remembers us even when we forget him.


  1. Do you ever think you are too far away from God? What does Moses's story tell us about this?
  2. If you were in God's position, would you want to forgive the Israelites? Or would you want to utterly destroy them?
  3. What does this tell us about how we need to live our lives if God is our example in all things? 

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