DoctrineThe Mosaic Covenant is part of the Covenant of Grace by Scott Bushey
*The Mosaic Covenant is part of the Covenant of Grace
- Lig Duncan says in regards to the Mosaic being part of the C of G:”First of all, the moral law continues to be the perfect standard of obedience in the Covenant of Grace.”
- Matt Slick writes: “In the O.T. the Hebrew word for covenant is always b’rith. In the N.T. it is always diatheke. A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties. God has initiated many agreements, or covenants, with different people throughout biblical history, i.e., Adam, Noah, and Abraham, etc. Covenant is an important part of biblical history and, therefore, theology. There is a flow to the covenants found in the Bible. Basically, it is as follows. First, God the Father made a covenant with the Son with regard to the elect. This covenant was made before the universe was created and it consisted of the Father promising to bring to the Son all whom the Father had given Him (John 6:39; 17:9,24). The manifestation of that covenant occurs in our world in a sequence of additional covenants that God makes with individuals: Adam (Gen. 2:15-17), Noah (Gen. 9:12-16), Abraham (Gen. 17), the Israelites at Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:28), David (Sam. 7:12-16), believers in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37), etc. These additional covenants with people fall under the Covenant of Grace where God makes a covenant with the elect and promises them salvation through faith in Jesus. “
- “The Law at Sinai was a covenant of works to all the carnal descendants of Abraham, but a rule of life to the spiritual. Thus, like the pillar of cloud, the law had both a bright and a dark side to it” (Thomas Bell, 1814, The Covenants).
- Lane Keister writes: “The biggest sticking point to me about considering the Sinai covenant a covenant of works is that if that were so, then why did it take so long for God to eject the people of God out of the land? Most republicationists believe that it was a covenant of works regarding keeping the land. But Adam was ejected pronto, after he disobeyed. Furthermore, there was a way of forgiveness in the Sinai covenant: the sacrificial system (of course, only as a prefiguring of Christ). More and more I am coming to see that the CoW and the CoG both thread their way through all redemptive history. They are parallel. If a person is not part of the CoG, then they are still under the sanctions of the CoW. Just because Adam broke it doesn’t mean that humanity is now free from its effects. The CoG provides a way for us to be free from the sanctions of the CoW. I believe that Sinai reminds us very carefully about the CoW, but that is different from being a republication. I still think that republication falls within the realm of orthodoxy (the Marrow men certainly believed it). But I think singling out Sinai as a republication is a bit selective: the entire OT republishes the CoW for everyone who is not part of the CoG.”
- Bullinger writes: “Wherefore, in this first precept of the ten commandments is contained the mystery of Christ our Lord, and our salvation: so that, as often as those words of God shall be recited in our ears, we ought not so much to set our eyes and minds upon the ancient delivery of Israel out of Egypt, as upon the new and latter redemption, which we have by Christ Jesus, thereby to quicken our hope, and not to despair, but that the most excellent and mighty God both is and will be our God, as heretofore he hath been theirs”and here:*When Bullinger uses the term ‘league’, Replace that with Covenant…”Now he did not first begin the league with Abraham, but did renew to him the covenant that ho had made a great while before. For he did first of all make it with Adam, the first father of us all, immediately upon his transgression, when he received him, silly wretch, into his favour again, and promised his only-begotten Son, in whom he would be reconciled to the world, and through whom he would wholly bestow himself upon us, by making us partakers of all his good and heavenly blessings, and by binding us unto himself in faith and due obedience. This ancient league, made first with Adam, he did afterward renew to Noah, and after that again with the blessed patriarch Abraham. And again, after the space of four hundred years, it was renewed under Moses at the mount Sinai, where the conditions of the league were at large written in the two tables, and many ceremonies added thereunto. But most excellently of all, most clearly and evidently, did our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself shew forth that league; who, wiping away all the ceremonies, types, figures, and shadows, brought in instead of them the very truth, and did most absolutely fulfil and finish the old league, bringing all the principles of our salvation and true godliness into a brief summary, which, for the renewing and fulfilling of all things, and for the abrogation of the old ceremonies, he called the new league, or new testament. In that testament Christ alone is preached, the perfectness and fulness of all things; in it there is nothing more desired than faith and charity; and in it is granted holy and wonderful liberty unto the godly; of which I will speak at another time (169-170).”
- Calvin says: “Now, as to the new covenant, it is not so called, because it is contrary to the first covenant; for God is never inconsistent with himself, nor is he unlike himself, he then who once made a covenant with his chosen people, had not changed his purpose, as though he had forgotten his faithfulness. It then follows, that the first covenant was inviolable; besides, he had already made his covenant with Abraham, and the Law was a confirmation of that covenant. As then the Law depended on that covenant which God made with his servant Abraham, it follows that God could never have made a new, that is, a contrary or a different covenant. For whence do we derive our hope of salvation, except from that blessed seed promised to Abraham? Further, why are we called the children of Abraham, except on account of the common bond of faith? Why are the faithful said to be gathered into the bosom of Abraham? Why does Christ say, that some will come from the east and the west, and sit down in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (Luke 16:22; Matthew 8:11) These things no doubt sufficiently shew that God has never made any other covenant than that which he made formerly with Abraham, and at length confirmed by the hand of Moses. This subject might be more fully handled; but it is enough briefly to shew, that the covenant which God made at first is perpetual (Calvin on Jeremiah 31).”
- Samuel Rutherford adds; But the truth is, the Law as pressed upon Israel was not a Covenant of Works.The Law as the Law or as a Covenant of Works is made with perfect men who need no mercy; But this Covenant is made with sinners, with an express preface of mercy: “I am the Lord your God that brought you out of the land of Egypt, etc.” It is made with stiff-necked Israel, (Deut. 29; Deut. 30, 31, 32). And that is called a Covenant from the end and object, as motions are denominate from their end: for the end of the Lord’s pressing the Law upon them was to bring them under a blessed necessity to seek salvation in their true City of Refuge, Christ Jesus, who redeemed them out of the spiritual bondage of sin.It was the Covenant made with Abraham, which was a Covenant of Grace: and though it be called, (Deut. 29:1) a Covenant beside that which was made in Horeb, because [it was]Renewed again after their breach.Repeated a little before the death of Moses, Deut. 22.214.171.124.Because there were some additions of special blessings, cursings, Ceremonial Commands, that were not in the formerly proposed Covenant, (Exod. 20). Yet the same it was in substance, to love the Lord with all the heart (Deut. 2:10, 12-14). The same with that of Abraham, Deut. 8:18: “That he may establish his Covenant, which he swore unto your fathers, as it is this day,” when he is to deliver them out of Egypt (Exod. 2:24). And God [pg. 61] “heard their groaning, and remembered his Covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.” So the Lord expones [expounds?] it in his appearing to Moses, Exod. 3:6. Jer. 31:32: “Not according to the Covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the Land of Egypt.” Now that was the Covenant which God made with Abraham, of which Circumcision was a seal (Gen. 17), not of a temporary Canaan only, but of heart Circumcision, (Col. 2.11). For the Lord expressly tells them, when he “took them by the hand” as his married people, “to bring them out of the Land of Aegypt, and out of the house of bondage” (Exod. 20). He meant no other Covenant then he made with Abraham, of believing, (Gen. 15) and of walking before him and being perfect, (Gen. 17:1-2) which is somewhat more legal, as Moses and the Lord himself expones [expounds?] it (Exod. 2:24, 3:6. Exod. 20:1-2). And he shows them, (Lev. 26:42) if in their enemies’ land they repent and shall come out and meet the rod, and their “uncircumcised hearts shall willingly accept of the punishment of their iniquity.” “Then (saith the Lord) I will remember my Covenant with Jacob, and also my Covenant with Isaac, and also my Covenant with Abraham will I remember.” Besides there are not here three Covenants, but one, there is no word of the subservient Covenant with Israel in Sinai. Except that when he mentions the one, he excludes not the other. For to walk before the Lord required in Abraham’s Covenant (Gen. 17”1) is to walk in all the ways of the Lord, to fear and love him (Deut. 10:12-13) and Samuel (1 Sam. 12:22) and Joshua (Josh. 24:22-25). And Mary (Luke 1.55) and Zachariah (Luke 1:70-73) refer to the Covenant made with Abraham, and Deut. 6:10, the Covenant at Horeb, the Lord made with Abraham to give Canaan to his seed. Deut. 7:12: “If you hearken to these judgments to do them, it shall come to pass that the Lord your God will keep unto you the Covenant of mercy that he swore unto your fathers, etc.”This Covenant hath the promise of a circumcised heart (Deut. 30:6). and “of the word of faith that is near in the mouth,” and of the righteousness of faith clearly differenced from the righteousness of the Law by doing. For so Paul (Rom. 10:5-7, etc.) expones [expounds?] Moses (Deut. 30:11-14. [pg. 62]The Covenant of Works taught nothing of the way of expiation of sin by blood typifying the Ransom of blood that Christ was to pay for our sins, as this Covenant, all along had sacrifices and blood to confirm it. Exod. 24:8: “And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, behold this is the Blood of the Covenant which the Lord has made with you, concerning all these words.” Now the words were the Ten Commandments. See: Heb. 9:18-24.This Covenant is made with Israel only (Exod. 20; Deut. 5:6; Deut. 6:5-7, 12). The Covenant of Works is made with all mankind.No people under the Law can be justified and saved thereby, nor have their sins pardoned (Rom. 3:9-11, 19-20; Rom. 4:1-4; Rom. 9; Rom. 10; Psalm 130:3; Psalm 143:2; Gal. 3.1-3, 10-13). But in this Covenant, Abraham, David (Gen. 15; Psalm 32; Rom. 4.1-9). And the Jews by faith, have remission of sins and salvation, as also the Gentiles have (Acts 10:43. Acts 15:11).The Lord minds to lay aside the Law as inconsistent with the Covenant of Grace. Gal. 3:18: “If the inheritance be by the Law, then it is not by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” For to live by this Covenant, is a life of promises, all being here promised, both faith the condition, and perseverance therein, and a new heart, righteousness, pardon, and life. A man that has his estate in papers and in good words that are transient things, may seem a poor man, but to live by promises here is the rich life of the heirs of hope, this is strong consolation under deadness, absence, faith working underground in the dark. Gal. 3:21: “If there had been a Law which could have given life, verily righteousnesse should have been by the Law.”
- Question 101 of the Larger catechism “Q. 101. What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?A. The preface to the Ten Commandments is contained in these words, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments”
- Anthony Burgess writes:”Having proved it [the Mosaic Law] is a Covenant, all the difficulty remains in declaring what Covenant it is; for here is much difference of judgments, even with the Learned and Orthodox: and this [pg. 232] arises from the different places of the Scripture, which, although they are not contrary one to another, yet the weakness of our understandings is many times overmastered by some places: Some (as you have heard) make it a Covenant of works, others a mixed Covenant, some a subservient Covenant; but I am persuaded to go with those who hold it to be a Covenant of grace: and indeed, it is very easy to bring strong arguments for the affirmative; but then there will be some difficulty to answer such places as are brought for the negative; and if the affirmative prove true, the dignity and excellence of the Law will appear the more. Now, before I come to the arguments, which induce me hereunto, consider in what sense it may be explained, that it is a Covenant of grace.Some explain it thus, that it was indeed a Covenant of grace, but the Jews, by their corrupt understanding, made it a Covenant of works, and so opposed it unto Christ: and therefore, say they, the Apostle argues against the Law, as making it to oppose the promises and grace: not that it did so, but only in regard of the Jews corrupt minds, who made an opposition where there was none. This has some truth in it, but it is not full.Some make the Law to be a Covenant of grace, but very obscurely; and therefore they hold the Gospel and the Law to be the same, differing only as the acorn while it is in the husk, and the oak when it’s branched out into a tall tree. Now if this should be understood in a Popish sense, as if the righteousness of the Law and the Gospel were all one, in which sense the Papists speak of the old Law and the new, it would be very dangerous and directly thwarting the Scripture.Some explain it thus: God (say they) had a primary or antecedent will in giving of the Law, or a secondary and consequent: His primary will was to hold out perfect and exact righteousness, against which the Apostle argues, and proves no man can be justified thereby: but then God knowing mans impotency and inability, did secondarily command repentance, and promises a gracious acceptance through Christ; and this may be very well received, if it be not vexed with ill interpretations.[pg. 233] But, lastly, this way I shall go: The Law (as to this purpose) may be considered more largely, as that whole doctrine delivered on Mount Sinai, with the preface and promises adjoined, and all things that may be reduced to it; or more strictly, as it is an abstracted rule of righteousness, holding forth life upon no terms, but perfect obedience. Now take it in the former sense, it was a Covenant of grace; take it in the later sense, as abstracted from Moses’s administration of it, and so it was not of grace, but works.”
- All the covenants after Gen 3:15, by default, fall under the C of G; unless you are outside of Christ and then, again, the C of W’s. The way to look at it is if one is saved, no matter what timeframe, if it is by grace, then it falls under the C of G.
- Ex 24:87 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, x“All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 cAnd Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”Deut 5:2-32 The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 yNot with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.Ex 19:5-65 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be wmy treasured possession among all peoples, for xall the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a ykingdom of priests and za holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”Gal 3:17-1817 This is what I mean: the law, which came d430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as eto make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Nathan PItchford writes:”The Mosaic Covenant was not just an expression of the Covenant of Grace, as the Westminster Confession makes clear, but it was an administration that made a definite advance in clarity as concerns the very essence of the Covenant of Grace. To substantiate this opinion, let me give a quick reminder of how the Covenant of Grace is pictured in its inauguration after the Fall and its most important reiteration in the Abrahamic Promise.”
- Pitchford cont’s:”Now, when we arrive at Sinai, we see the same basic pattern displayed even more clearly; there, a huge advance is made in setting forth the nature of the Covenant of Grace as the republished Covenant of Works, with an added provision of a perfect, divine Mediator and federal head. On Mount Sinai, the works that God requires to be perfectly fulfilled are set forth more clearly than ever before in the giving of the Law, and most especially the Decalogue; and furthermore, the sanctions called down for transgression and the rewards promised for perfect obedience, viz. life in the land where God himself dwells, are made much more clear and specific. But at the same time, the promise of the coming Seed and the nature of his redemptive and substitutionary work are made vastly more clear in the sacrificial and high-priestly ordinances, the festivals, and all the types and ceremonies that Moses enjoined upon the people. So in that sense, it is not just an administration of the same Covenant of Grace, but a giant-step forward in clarity and specificity of the promise of Christ.”
- John Owen’s writes: “God had before given the covenant of works, or perfect obedience, unto all mankind, in the law of creation. But this covenant at Sinai did not abrogate or disannul that covenant, nor any way fulfill it. And the reason is, because it was never intended to come in the place or room thereof, as a covenant, containing an entire rule of all the faith and obedience of the whole church. God did not intend in it to abrogate the covenant of works, and to substitute this in the place thereof; yea, in sundry things it reinforced, established, and confirmed that covenant.”
James Fisher in his catechism explains a few important distinctions between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace:
“Q. 23. If both covenants, of grace and works, were exhibited on Mount Sinai, were not the Israelites, in that case, under both these covenants at one and the same time?
A. They could not be under both covenants in the same respects, at the same time; and therefore they must be considered either as believers or unbelievers, both as to their outward church state and inward soul frame.
Q. 24. In what respects were the believing Israelites, in the Sinaitic transaction, under both covenants?
A. They were internally and really under the covenant of grace, as all believers are, Rom. 6:14, and only externally, under the above awful display of the covenant of works, as it was subordinate and subservient to that of grace, in pointing out the necessity of the Surety-righteousness, Gal. 3:24.
Q. 25. In what respects were unbelievers among them, under these two covenants of works and grace?
A. They were only externally, and by profession, in respect of their visible church state, under the covenant of grace, Rom. 9:4; but internally, and really, in respect of the state of their souls, before the Lord, they were under the covenant of works, chap. 4:14, 15.”