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Traditional 'Proofs'

How we don't read carefully 

Old Covenant, Moses, Old Covenant confirmation, Hebrews 9

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Most Bible students are aware that a covenant was made at Mt. Sinai, also known as Horeb (Deu 4:15).  They are typically not aware that other covenants were made as well.  The connection between the Sinai covenant and the Old covenant is actually very flimsy. 

 

Mt. Sinai is of course, where God spoke directly to the Children of Israel.  Indeed this must have been an awesome event.  The crux of this covenant is the Ten Commandments.  This is why Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 4:13 identify the Ten Commandments as the "words of the covenant" and "His covenant".  It is the crux and foundation of God's instruction to Israel.     

 

However, the Ten Commandments were not the only terms of this covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai.  To quiet their fears, the people of Israel requested that God break off speaking to them directly.  They requested that He speak through Moses. (Ex. 20:19)  Exodus 20:22 then continues the terms of this covenant.  The terms and additional judgments (Ex.21:1) continue through chapter 23:19.  The rest of chapter 23 is mostly promises that would come as a result of obedience.  Obedience was assumed.  This is apparently the entire covenant God and Israel made at Sinai.  Moses then wrote down all that God had said. (Ex 24:4,7).

 

A covenant in ancient times was a very serious matter.  The covenant we often think of is the marriage covenant.  Nowadays, those are ratified and discarded so fast we have little respect for a covenant.  This was not so in ancient times.

 

So the day after writing the terms, Moses built an altar and evidently gathered all the people together.  He took blood from some oxen that had been offered and sprinkled it on the altar.  He read all the terms again, this time directly from what he had written, which is recorded for us in Exodus 20-23:19. (see Ex. 24:4-7)  The people again agreed and were sprinkled with the blood of the young bull confirming the covenant. (vs. 7-8)

 

The traditional Christian will connect this account with the confirming of the Old Covenant described in Hebrews 9:18-21.

 

 "Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." 21Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry."

 

Do you notice anything different and/or odd about this description of the confirming of the Old Covenant?    Most people do not, so the traditional belief is perpetuated. 

 

However, according to Hebrews, Moses didn't sprinkle ox or young bull blood on the people, he sprinkled calf and goat blood on both the people and the scroll.  Then he turned and sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  Where is the Tabernacle in the Exodus 24 account?  In fact, it did not exist!.  The plans weren't even given to Moses until after the confirmation of Exodus 24:8. (see Ex 24:15-27:21 Actually the plans for the tabernacle were likely given many weeks later.  See Tabernacle Timing

 

Also according to Hebrews, Moses didn't read from the book or scroll of the covenant, he spoke every precept of the law. The text Moses read, most of Exodus 20:1-23:19, mentions nothing of sin offerings, the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites, the existence of a temple, the curses of the law or even circumcision.  Every one of these were vital precepts of the Law.  How could Moses have spoken every precept of the Law without mentioning these fundamental aspects of the Law?

 

Is someone confused, or are these merely minor details just describing the same event in general terms or two different angles? 

 

The fact is, this account of the ratifying of the Old Covenant in Hebrews cannot be describing the ratifying of the covenant made at Horeb (Sinai) as described in Exodus 24.  Did Hebrews make a mistake?  Is it confused?  To what covenant could Hebrews possibly be referring?

 

"These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb." (Deu. 29:1)

 

Traditional Christianity typically lumps this second covenant made between Israel and their Creator in the wilderness together with the Sinai Covenant.  However, Paul clearly stated in Galatians 3:15, "...Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it."  So once confirmed, even error prone men did not tamper with a covenant.  This is still true of some legal documents today.  The Sinai covenant consists only of Exodus 20-23.  This second covenant is independent of the Sinai Covenant.  It is the only covenant that really fits Hebrews' description.  It is described in Deuteronomy, beginning in 1:1 and drawing toward a conclusion in chapter 29:1.  This covenant is never called 'His Covenant'.  It acknowledges His Covenant existed prior to this covenant (Deu 4:12-13, 23).  His covenant was made 39+ years earlier at Mt. Sinai.

 

Generally speaking, Deuteronomy is the text of Moses' speech to the Children of Israel just before they went into the Promised Land.  This was over 39 years after the Sinai covenant.  

 

Deu 29:9  " Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.....vs. 12that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today.... 14 I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today...... 21And the LORD would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law"

Chapter 30 continues. 10"if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul...19I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."

Chapter 31 continues.9 "So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel...24So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, 25that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: 26"Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you."

 

On the day Moses spoke these words of Deuteronomy to the children of Israel, God made a second covenant with the people.  This covenant was placed near the crux of the Sinai covenant, the Covenant of the Lord, but it did not displace the Covenant of the Lord.  It repeated the foundational terms or 'words' of the Sinai covenant for the historical record, but this covenant was not the Sinai covenant.  It was binding on Israel just as the Sinai covenant was, and Israel agreed to perform it, (Deu 26:16-17) but the Sinai covenant, was clearly a different covenant.  "These are the words of the covenant..., besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb". (Deu 29:1)   One thing, besides another thing is not one thing, but two things jointly applicable.

 

So what is the difference?  In simple terms, the difference is the difference between Exodus 20-23 and the entire Book of the Law, Genesis though Deuteronomy.  Fully understanding the details surrounding this can greatly expand your understand of the mind of the Creator.  For instance, why two covenants with Israel?

 

"MY Covenant" is indeed the Ten Commandments just as Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 4:13 say.  "This Covenant", made just before entering the Promised Land, is a different covenant.  It is clear when one carefully examines Deuteronomy, its message and function.

 

Other scriptures have also been misunderstood by traditional Christianity.