The Mosaic Covenant
By Shawn Tomlin
Starting with this covenant, the next 3 covenants are connected to “office.” Christ, in His coming, His life, death, and resurrection, fulfilled the offices of prophet, priest and king. These next covenants each highlight one of these offices and the Mosaic Covenant, or Prophetic Covenant as it could be called, will highlight (naturally) the office of prophet.
First, let’s get a grasp of what a prophet really is. A lot of people hear the word “prophet” and equate it with something like a fortune teller, or someone who can see the future. This is NOT what a prophet is. God chose certain men to speak the truth of His Word to all who could listen. In a sense, a prophet was a preacher. Visions were given and unfulfilled prophecies still exist but the main function of a prophet was to speak the truth of God’s Word. That’s exactly what Moses did, spoke the truth to God’s people, and through Moses God covenanted with Israel.
This covenant builds upon the Abrahamic Covenant, continuing to focus on Abraham’s descendants, who have become the nation of Israel. In Exodus 34:27 the LORD says to Moses “Write down these words, for I have made a covenant with Israel based on these words.” These words were the Ten Commandments. The Law, in a sense, goes hand in hand with the Mosaic Covenant.
I want to be clear on what I mean in speaking about this covenant and the Law. So a few points here.
1) The Mosaic Covenant isn’t the Torah. The Mosaic Covenant deals with the Ten Commandments and the laws that build upon them.
2) The Ten Commandments are a written version of the Law written on Adam’s heart, in the heart of creation, in the Adamic Covenant.
3) Focusing in on murder, some believe that before the Ten Commandments, that no one knew it was wrong to murder and God wouldn’t punish them for such actions. Look at Cain, after the murder of Abel God held him responsible for his actions (Genesis 4).
4) As Romans 2:15 says, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or excuse them.” Generally speaking, we all, Jew or not, know the basics of the Law because it was written on all our hearts and we were born subject to it. It was embedded into the very fabric of creation.
5) The Ten Commandments were given to a specific people during a specific time with specific promises attached to it. This does NOT mean that all people aren’t under this Law or that God wouldn’t hold them responsible for breaking His Law.
God could’ve left them in bondage in Egypt, that would’ve been just on His part, but God always keeps His covenant promises and acted out of grace towards the descendants of Abraham
All that Law can be heavy. Is there any grace to be found in the Mosaic Covenant? The very foundation of this, and all the covenants, is grace. We would never approach God to offer a covenant, so He came to us. Exodus 2:24 says, “And God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob…” God could’ve left them in bondage in Egypt, that would’ve been just on His part, but God always keeps His covenant promises and acted out of grace towards the descendants of Abraham. This gracious act of saving His chosen people is summarized in Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.”
Within the Mosaic Covenant, works and grace, Law and Gospel, can be found. This shows the need for the Covenant of Works to be fulfilled, it shows the grace of when we failed to fulfill it, and it pointed to the eventual fulfillment of it all in Christ.
Van Dorn in Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Primer says this, “God established this prophetic covenant until the promised Prophet-Seed should come. This as it was predicted. ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers- it is to him you shall listen’ (Deuteronomy 18:15). There had not arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10) until the Lord Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the Promise (Acts 3:22; 7:37).
In closing, the Mosaic Covenant was established, grounded in the Abrahamic Covenant, because from this people the Promised Seed would come, and in these covenants, whose foundation is grace, God preserved them so that His Son, Jesus Christ would come according to His predetermined will and fulfill it all perfectly for us.
“The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”