Notes on Sinaitic Covenant from my own thought after reading some of AW Pink’s Divine Covenants
The covenant with the Hebrew people made at Mount Sinai:
- Was built on the Abrahamic Covenant
- It was a carnal and temporal fulfillment of it
- It was preparatory for the coming of the Messiah and the ushering in of the New Covenant
- It was intended to be temporal – see Gal 3:19
- It was conditioned on obedience –
- Promised outward blessing for the chosen people in the chosen land
- Promised cursing and calamaties if the people rejected the rule of Jehovah
- Blessing and cursing for the whole of Israel was based on obedience to the law; but the salvation of individuals was all of grace through faith as in every age, irrespective of the sin/obedience of the nation as a whole (Heb 11)
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry [Christ has a more excellent ministry than Moses], by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant [The New Covenant is better than the Old (Sinaitic Covenant)], which was established upon better promises [The promises of the New Covenant are eternal – those of the Old Covenant were temporal]. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. [Jeremiah 31:31-34] 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
This passage is a great corrective to Reformed Covenant theologians and Dispensationalists alike. The Covenant Theologian must take note that the New Covenant is founded upon better promises and is “not according to the covenant” that was made with Moses. It is not merely a new administration of one covenant, it is entirely new and distinct from the old and temporary one. Also note that every member of this New Covenant is converted – a regenerate church is assumed.
The Dispensationalist must note the passing of the levitical priesthood and the temple. These have no future in God’s plan. They were a “shadow of heavenly things“; that is types to serve until the anti-type has come. Also note with whom the Covenant will be made – Israel. Jehovah has dis-regarded the disobedient Hebrews, but He has found favor in one Hebrew – the Messiah. Those that are Messiah’s are the people of God, a holy nation (1 Pet 2:5), fellow citizens of Israel (Eph 2:19), and en-grafted ‘unnaturally’ into the tree of Israel (Rom 11).
Says AW Pink:
Observe carefully what is said in Hebrews 8 to be the characteristic difference between the new and the old economies: “I will put my laws into their minds and write them in their hearts” (v. 10). No promise in any wise comparable to this was given at Sinai. But the absence of any assurance of the Spirit’s internal and effectual operations was quite in keeping with the fact that the Mosaic economy required not so much an inward and spiritual, as an outward and natural obedience to the law, which for them had nothing higher than temporal sanctions. This is a fundamental principle which has not received the consideration to which it is entitled: it is vital to a clear understanding of the radical difference which obtains between Judaism and Christianity. Under the former God dealt with one nation only; now He is manifesting His grace to elect individuals scattered among all nations. Under the former He simply made known His requirements; in the latter He actually produces that which meets His requirements.