The Covenant at Sinai

Ex 19:4-6
1. God takes the initiative in making the covenant.
2. Israel’s special statues - “my treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6).
3. The covenant is conditional on Israel’s obedience (Ex 19:8; 24:3,7)
4. Two sets of obligations:

The Ten Commandments - announced directly by God Ex 20:1-17;

The Book of the Covenant announced through Moses (Ex 20:22-23:33).

Ten Commandments

They govern Israel’s relationship with God and other people.
The individual rights regarding life, marriage, and possession cannot be violated.

The Book of the Covenant

1. Divine Presence and how the Israelites are to encounter God (Ex 20:23-26);
2. Laws dealing with various aspects of social life (Ex 21:1-22:20);
3. What God expects from His people (Ex 22:21-23:9);
4. The observance of the Sabbath and religious festivals (Ex 23:10-19).
5. How God will act on behalf of the Israelites, enabling them to take the possession of the land of Canaan (Ex 23:20-33).
Ex 21:1-22:20
The slaves have the right to be set free after a fixed period of time (Ex 21:1-4).
So, the Egyptians acted illegally in holding the Israelites as slaves for a long period of time. See Jer 34:8-22
Compensation for physical injury (Ex 21:18-27)
The concept of restitution (Ex 22:1-15) - related with Ex 3:21-22; 11:2; 12:35-36.

Moral Symmetry

Ex 21:23-25 - the punishment should match the crime.

The sanctity of life

Ex 21:12-17; 22:18-20;
There is a capital punishment for a variety of crimes.
It reflects how valuable is individual human life in the eyes of God;
how important is the hierarchical structure within the family;
and how important is the purity of worship.

Moral imperatives

Ex 22:21-23:9
It deals with an attitude toward the weak and vulnerable members of society (aliens, widows, orphans, the needy, the poor).
No one is favoured here neither the rich (Ex 23:8) nor the poor (Ex 23:3).
Everyone should be treated equally (Ex 23:6,9).
A witness must not be swayed by social pressure (Ex 23:2)
God demands that his people should overcome evil with good (Ex 23:4-5; Mt 5:43-48; Rom 12:19-21).

Sabbath and Religious Festivals

Ex 23:10-19 - to worship the Lord alone.
Sabbath is the sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Ex 31:12-17).
So, desecrating the Sabbath is like breaking this covenant (Ex 31:14-15).

The nature of the covenant

Ex 23:20-33;
If the Israelites obey the Lord, they will get the land of Canaan (Ex 23:22-23).
They will be blessed in the future (23:25-26) and live secure in the land (Ex 23:27-28).
Thus, they have to be totally dedicated to the Lord (Ex 23:32-33).

The ratification of the covenant

Ex 24:4-11;
The building of the altar;
The reading of the book of the Covenant (Ex 24:7);
Sealing the covenant with the blood (Ex 24:8).
Then, Moses and the elders come to the mountain to eat in the presence of God (Ex 24:9-11)

Rebellion in the Camp

Moses goes up Mount Sinai to get the instructions for building the tabernacle (Ex 25:1-31:18).
But 40 days and nights (Ex 24:18) was very long for people in the camp.
They ask for “gods” (Ex 32:1).
God sends Moses back to the camp (Ex 32:7).
God proposes that out of Moses He can make a great nation (Ex 32:10).
But, Moses pleads with God.
Then, Moses himself gets angry and destroys the two tablets.
He will have to bring back a new tablets later (Ex 34:1; 34:27-28; cf Ex 20:3-17, 24:4).

New Testament Connections

Jesus and the law (Mt 12:9-14; Mk 3:1-6; John 7:21-24) - healing on the Sabbath.
Laws regarding cleanness (Mt 15:10-20; Mk 7:1-8).
Mt 5:18-20, then Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:29-31, also see Jesus’ temptations.
Jesus redefines the law in Matt 5:21-48
Paul and the law
Gal 3:15-25 - Abraham’s faith preceded Moses’ law

The New Covenant

Jer 31:31-34;
Mt 26:28 - the Eucharist as the new covenant.
Heb 8:9 - The new covenant different from the old.
Heb 9:11-14
2 Cor 3:6 (Heb 8:11-12)
From the Sabbath to the Lord’s day (Acts 20:7; see 1 Cor 16:2).
Ex 19:6; see 1 Peter 2:9-10 (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
The new covenant achieved what the old could not do.