Over the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging through the Marrow of Modern Divinity.
Chapter 1 of The Marrow covered the Covenant of Works that God made with our father Adam. The chapter dealt with the arrangement that God made with all mankind through our first father, which Adam subsequently broke and plunged all his descendants into a willful rebellion of sin and misery (Read my post on Federal Theology).
Upon Adam’s fall, God began to reveal his Plan of Salvation by Free Grace which He had purposed in Himself from all eternity. From Adam to Christ, this Plan was revealed in fuller and fuller measures until the full revelation of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was manifest to mankind.
In parts 1 and 2 we saw how the promise of God was given richer and fuller development based on the progressive revelation to Adam and Abraham. Next, Evangelista begins to teach the laymen concerning Moses; and God’s revelation through him in leading the children of Israel out of bondage, to Mount Sinai, and into the land of promise.
Promise in the Passover
…Christ Jesus was most clearly manifested unto them in the passover lamb; for, as that lamb was to be without spot or blemish, (Exo 12:5), even so was Christ, (1 Peter 1:19). And as that lamb was taken up the tenth day of the first new moon in March, even so on the very same day of the same month came Christ to Jerusalem to suffer his passion. And as that lamb was killed on the fourteenth day at even, just then, on the same day, and at the same hour, did Christ give up the ghost; and as the blood of that lamb was to be sprinkled on the Israelites’ doors, (Exo 12:7), even so is the blood of Christ sprinkled on believers’ hearts by faith, (1 Peter 1:2). And their deliverance out of Egypt was a figure of their redemption by Christ, their passing through the Red Sea was a type of baptism … and their manna in the wilderness, and water out of the rock, did resemble the …Lord’s Supper…
Types of the Promise
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Cor 10:1-4)
From this, we see that to the Israelites was demonstrated the need for:
- A mediator to stand between man and God
- A deliverer to lead them from bondage
- A perfect spotless substitutionary and bloody sacrifice
- The Lord’s Table
Further, from the Passover, we see a foreshadow of:
The Promise in the Law?
Next, the people of God were led to Mount Sinai where God proclaimed to them his moral law in the hearing of the entire congregation. This law was not given them as a means to escape bondage in Egypt, but rather, was given to those that were already delivered by God’s grace, as a rule to govern their conduct in the promised land (see Rom 8:7). In my understanding, this law was given to them for several reasons:
- To convict them of sin
- To protect them
That is, to drive them to their knees seeking mercy and grace in humble repentance.
That is, as a condition for blessing for national Israel.
The law was given to Israel to remind them of the holiness and justice of God, to stir up a conviction of sin in the elect, to make them flee to God for mercy and salvation, and to humble them and show them the utter useless of the works of fallen man. Secondly, the law was given as a condition for remaining under God’s blessing and protection in the land. If the people would refuse to have Jehovah for their God, he would chastise them by the surrounding Gentile nations.
To the moral law, of course, was appended further ceremonial laws (foreshadowing Christ), providing for a system of cleansings and sacrifices – providing Israel with a shadow of Christ, showing them what was required for sin, teaching them about grace and forgiveness, and causing them to weary and long for the coming Messiah. The law also separated Israel from the surrounding nations and made them a nation set apart and Holy unto God.
Re-Publication of the Covenant of Works?
In so far as the law was used to convict men of sin and show them their fallen nature, the Ten Commandments are, as The Marrow calls them, a re-publication of the universal moral law (the Covenant of Works), which God designed into His universe at creation. To read Fisher’s arguments, in The Marrow, regarding the republication of the moral law, use the following links:
Thomas Boston footnotes a particular exchange in this chapter of the book that was added to a later edition of The Marrow. I print it here as a good summary of this section:
“I do not say, God made the covenant of works with them, that they might obtain life and salvation thereby; no, the law was become weak through the flesh, as to any such purpose, (Rom 8:3). But he repeated, or gave a new edition of the law, and that, as a covenant of works, for their humbling and conviction; and so do his ministers preach the law to unconverted sinners still, that they who ‘desire to be under the law may hear what the law says,’ (Gal 4:21). And as to what you say of their not agreeing to this covenant, I pray take notice, that the covenant of works was made with Adam, not for himself only, but as he was a public person representing all his posterity, and so that covenant was made with the whole nature of man in him, as appears by Adam’s sin and curse coming upon all, (Rom 5:12, Gal 3:10). Hence all men are born under that covenant, whether they agree to it or no; though, indeed, there is by nature such a proneness in all to desire to be under that covenant, and to work for life, that if natural men’s consent were asked, they would readily [though ignorantly] take upon them to do all that the Lord requireth…”
And another footnote from Pastor Boston:
It was not set up by itself as an entire rule of righteousness, to which alone they were to look who desired righteousness and salvation, as it was in the case of upright Adam, “For no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law,” Lar. Cat. quest. 94. But it was added to the covenant of grace, that by looking at it men might see what kind of righteousness it is by which they can be justified in the sight of God; and that by means thereof, finding themselves destitute of that righteousness, they might be moved to embrace the covenant of grace, in which that righteousness is held forth to be received by faith.
Confer: Luke 10:25-28, Matt 19:16-26