Thursday, April 7, 2011

Leading Others Into a Covenant Relationship With God

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

There are times that God calls us to call others into a relationship with Him.  Through out the Bible God establishes a covenant with people that follow Him. 

All the Lord's ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. Because of Your name, Yahweh, forgive my sin, for it is great.
Psalms 25:10-11 (HCSB)
The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them. My eyes are always on the Lord, for He will pull my feet out of the net.
Psalms 25:14-15 (HCSB)
"As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the Lord: "My Spirit who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouth of your children, or from the mouth of your children's children, from now on and forever," says the Lord.
Isaiah 59:21 (HCSB)
Brothers, I'm using a human illustration. No one sets aside or makes additions to even a human covenant that has been ratified. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say "and to seeds," as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ. And I say this: The law, which came 430 years later, does not revoke a covenant that was previously ratified by God and cancel the promise. For if the inheritance is from the law, it is no longer from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.
Galatians 3:15-18 (HCSB)

A covenant is a promise between to parties to act in some way toward the other.  God uses covenants to establish His action toward people and to describe how people should act toward Him.  Some covenants are conditional meaning that if one part of the covenant is upheld there is a promise for some favorable action toward the other (usually taking the form of blessing).  Some covenants are unconditional (usually relying solely on the Character of God). 

Moses was a mediator of a Covenant:

These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain. But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.
Hebrews 8:5-6 (HCSB)

Now that we have a little background let's look at how Moses led others into this Covenant relationship.

The Call

"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to Me. Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation." These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.
Exodus 19:4-6 (HCSB)

God had a special message that He wanted Moses to bring to the people.  He was establishing a special relationship with the people of Israel.  He desired that they would be set apart and to carefully follow Him.  Moses brought this call to the people.

The Response

After Moses came back, he summoned the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. Then all the people responded together, "We will do all that the Lord has spoken." So Moses brought the people's words back to the Lord.
Exodus 19:7-8 (HCSB)

When you enter into a covenant relationship there has to be a response.  You have to make a commitment to the covenant.  If there is no commitment there is no covenant (unless the covenant is unilateral by God).  The people had to make this commitment in order to proceed to the covenant relationship with God. 

The Cleansing

And the Lord told Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes and be prepared by the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people."
Exodus 19:10-11 (HCSB)
Then Moses came down from the mountain to the people and consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.
Exodus 19:14 (HCSB)

Notice where the consecration comes from.  It comes down from above.  It also is God who is consecrating the people.  Moses had no authority to consecrate the people.  He could only be a messenger bringing the message from God to be consecrated.  Moses could no more make the people Holy than to make water come out of a rock.  God did that.  Notice also that following the concretion there was a symbolic washing.  So we see this pattern then:  Consecration comes down from God to the people through a message delivered by Moses.  The people receive the message by faith and symbolically confirm this commitment through a ritual washing.  Hmmm this sounds very familiar. 

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