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From Eden to Eden

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    CHAPTER V. THE COVENANT WITH ISRAEL

    The seed of the woman, who was to bruise the head of the serpent, must be some one individual to be known as of Adam’s race; but how should he be known? How could he be distinguished from others of the same race? The children of men soon spread abroad upon the face of the earth, and some means must be instituted whereby the promised One should be recognized, for it was necessary that faith must receive him, and his identity must be so complete that an impostor could not be received in his stead.FEE 47.1

    Of all the families of the earth, the family of Terah, of Mesopotamia, was chosen as the one from which the promised Redeemer should come. And of the sons of Terah, Abraham was chosen. The conquering seed of the woman was to be his seed also. And of the sons of Abraham, Isaac was chosen. And of the sons of Isaac, Jacob was chosen. And of the twelve sons of Jacob, Judah was chosen.FEE 47.2

    Inasmuch as the Ishmaelites and the sons of Esau were circumcised as well as the Israelites, and called themselves by the name of Abraham, it was necessary that special means be instituted to keep the latter separate from all others. Jacob was caused to go down into Egypt; and when the iniquity of the Amorite was full (see Genesis 15:13-16), his children, grown to be a large people, were brought back to the land of Canaan. They were forbidden to make any covenant with the nations of that land, or to intermarry with them; but were required to keep themselves separate from all people. On the way to Canaan the Lord made a covenant with them; it was not the covenant made with their fathers (Deuteronomy 5:3); though it embraced the same purpose—the one great purpose—and required the same holiness. But it differed from the covenant made with Abraham, being based solely on obedience. That covenant is found in Exodus 19:5-8. From Mount Sinai the Lord sent a message to the people by the hand of Moses, in the following words:—FEE 47.3

    “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”FEE 48.1

    Moses laid these words before the people, and they answered with one accord: “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.”FEE 48.2

    The condition was something that he called his covenant. It was connected with obeying his voice. But as yet they had not heard his voice; thus far he had spoken to them only through Moses. But three days after that time, he spoke unto them with his own voice, in the hearing of the whole multitude. Moses, afterward speaking of this, Deuteronomy 4:12, said:—FEE 48.3

    “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.”FEE 48.4

    As in the covenant mentioned in Genesis 9:9-16 the promise was all on the part of God, regardless of man’s action, in this covenant the promise was on the part of the people. They promised unqualified obedience to God’s holy law. God simply set before them the objects to be gained by such obedience. That these objects comprised the highest attainments possible to man, may be learned from the following comparison:—FEE 48.5

    1. They should be a peculiar treasure unto the Lord. Christ gave himself for us, that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people. Titus 2:14; see also, 1 Peter 2:9.FEE 48.6

    2. They should be a kingdom of priests. “Ye also are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood.” “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.” Equivalent to a kingdom of priests. 1 Peter 2:5, 9.FEE 48.7

    3. They should be an holy nation. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” 1 Peter 2:9.FEE 48.8

    There are no higher blessings contained in all the promises of God, than are contained in these scriptures; and the things set before Israel, to be gained if they kept the first covenant, perfectly coincide with the choicest blessings in the gospel of Christ. All these were theirs provided they had done what they promised to do.FEE 49.1

    But did they keep their promise? Did they keep his covenant, and perfectly obey his voice? They did not. Very soon after this solemn transaction was ratified, they made a molten calf, and sacrificed unto it after the manner of the worship of the Egyptians. Not one of them fulfilled the perfect righteousness indicated in the condition. They were well described in that scripture before which the world stands convicted: “They are all gone out of the way; ... there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:12, 19; Psalm 14:3.FEE 49.2

    Then another question arises: If that covenant was based upon obedience only, and had not faith incorporated into it as a means of pardon, then it could afford no salvation to any who violated it; for it is impossible for law to save its own violator. That is very true; it admits of no question, for we find nothing but obedience in that covenant. “If ye will obey.” And the people said, “We will do.”FEE 49.3

    Are we to conclude, then, that all were lost who lived under that covenant, because they were all sinners, and it contained no power of forgiveness? By no means. A consideration of a few texts of Scripture will make this point clear.FEE 49.4

    1. Our Lord Jesus reminded his hearers that circumcision was not of Moses, but of the fathers. John 7:22. It was a token, not of the covenant made with the twelve tribes of Israel, but, of the covenant made with the fathers. They were already the covenant children of Abraham,—under a covenant of faith and grace. Hence, when the law condemned them, the law which they had so solemnly promised to obey, they were turned back as their only refuge to the covenant with Abraham. Of this covenant the true seed of Abraham, Christ the Messiah, was the appointed mediator. In this manner the law served to bring them to Christ. Galatians 3:24. As they only who are sick need a physician (Matthew 9:12), so must the sinner be convicted of his malady before he will apply to the great Physician for healing. And as by the law is the knowledge of sin, and by the law sin is made to appear exceeding sinful (Romans 3:20; 7:13), nothing but the law can convince anyone of his need of a Saviour, and bring him to Christ for salvation. How inefficient, then, to lead to genuine conversion, are all proposed systems of gospel teaching which ignore the law of God.FEE 49.5

    2. That this position is correct, is proved by Paul in Galatians 3:16, 17, where he declares that “the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. Compare with Romans 5:20. There were many righteous, faithful ones, of whom Paul said the time would fail him to mention, who through faith wrought righteousness, out of weakness were made strong, not accepting deliverance when they were tortured, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Their faith was in every respect truly evangelical; and having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, but saw it afar off, thus confessing, as did Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, that they were only pilgrims and strangers on the earth. But not one was saved by virtue of the covenant made at Horeb; their faith was the faith of Abraham, whose children they were.FEE 50.1

    The object of this covenant is further shown in the system of types or ceremonies given to them. Immediately after the covenant was ratified with the children of Israel (Exodus 24:1-8), God called Moses unto him into the Mount, where he gave him the system known as the ceremonial law. At the first the Lord commanded Moses to take from the people an offering of various valuable articles, and therewith to make a sanctuary, that he might dwell among them. The definition of this word as given by Cruden is as follows: “A holy or sanctified place, or dwelling place of the Most High.” This is correct according to the etymology of the word, and according to what the Lord said: “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8.FEE 50.2

    The sanctuary made by the children of Israel, under the direction of Moses, was a temporary or movable building, consisting of two rooms, the first called the holy, the second the most holy. In the first were a golden lampstand with seven lamps, a table of show bread, and a golden altar of incense. In the second or most holy was an ark containing the two tables of stone on which God himself had written his covenant, or law of ten commandments. And this was the only thing that was permanently kept in the most holy place. See 1 Kings 8:9. The order for making the ark, including its description and use, or object, is found in Exodus 25:10-22, as follows:—FEE 51.1

    “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.... And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.FEE 51.2

    “And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubim of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end; of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof. And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.FEE 51.3

    “And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”FEE 51.4

    But that was not the only place in the sanctuary in which the Lord said his glory should be manifested; we read as follows:—FEE 51.5

    “This shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord; where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.” Exodus 29:42, 43.FEE 51.6

    “There was to be a continual burnt-offering at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, or holy place, and the priests daily went into the holy place to trim the lamps and to burn incense. Exodus 30:1-8. But, as Paul says (Hebrews 9:7), “into the second went the high priest alone, once every year.”FEE 52.1

    The order of the service in the most holy place is given in Leviticus 16. Verse 29 says this service shall take place on the tenth day of the seventh month, and from the nature of the service that day was called the day of atonement. See Leviticus 23:27, 28. Leviticus 16:11-14 describes the manner in which the high priest was to make an atonement for himself with the blood of a bullock. Verses 15, 16, describe the making of the general atonement, as follows:—FEE 52.2

    “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin-offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat; and he shall make an atonement for the holy place.”FEE 52.3

    This has reference to that holy place where the ark was; see verse 2; and before we read further let us inquire, Why was he to make an atonement for the holy place? Surely the holy place had given no offense. It was not capable of action, either right or wrong. The remaining part of verse 16, and verse 19, give us full information on that point:—FEE 52.4

    “And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins; and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his fingers seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it, from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.”FEE 52.5

    Thus we see that the meaning of making an atonement for the sanctuary, or the holy place, is this: The sanctuary was defiled by the sins of the people, and as it was the place where God’s glory dwelt, and where he met the priests in judgment for the violations of his law, it was to be cleansed from their sins, that their uncleanness might not remain before God,—before the throne of judgment. During the whole year the work of propitiation was to be carried on in the service in the holy place, but the tenth day of the seventh month was the day of judgment, when all transgressions of his people were to be removed from before the Judge. It was the most solemn of all occasions in the religious observances of the nation. The high priest was to enter upon this service only after special preparation. Had he gone into the most holy without this preparation, or had he gone therein on any other day than the tenth day of the seventh month, he would have died. Leviticus 16:1-4. And the people well understood the importance of the success of the work of the high priest on that day. Had he not strictly observed the order given he would have died. Had he died therein, the sanctuary would have been doubly defiled; and as it was death for any but the high priest to enter there, they could have devised no means for his removal. In the event of any failure on his part, no atonement could have been made, and their sins would have remained before the seat of judgment. Everything connected with the service of that day was calculated to deeply impress upon their minds the following words of the Lord:—FEE 52.6

    “Also on the tenth day of the seventh month there shall be a day of atonement; it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it shall be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.... It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls; in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” Leviticus 23:27-32.FEE 53.1

    All that we have here described, both the sanctuary and its service, were typical. They were illustrations of the work of Christ; and to teach the manner of his priestly work was one great object of the covenant with Israel. The book of Hebrews is mostly an argument on the priesthood, both type and antitype. After noticing the great differences between the priesthood of Christ and that of Aaron, the writer says:—FEE 53.2

    “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest [such as he has described], who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the Heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2.FEE 53.3

    And concerning the sanctuary on earth, and priestly service therein, he says:—FEE 54.1

    “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Verse 5.FEE 54.2

    And again, discoursing especially of the work of Christ as our high priest, he says:—FEE 54.3

    “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the Heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:23, 24.FEE 54.4

    The old covenant has passed away; the Aaronic priesthood has ended. As the first covenant was ratified or dedicated with blood (Exodus 24:6-8; Hebrews 9:18, 19), and on the principle that a testament is of force after men are dead (verse 17), Christ shed his blood as the sacrifice of the new covenant (see Luke 22:20), which made the covenant of full effect, and made all the sacrifices of the old covenant effective and their further use meaningless.FEE 54.5

    When Christ came to his own, and they received him not, but despised and rejected him, and finally delivered him to death, they fully demonstrated their unfitness to be the depositaries of God’s holy law. Not only had they refused to let their light shine to the people around them, but they themselves rejected the light by crucifying the Author of it. But God was still gracious to the tribe of Israel for the father’s sake. They were a disobedient and gainsaying people (Romans 10:21); but they were the children of Abraham, from whom the Messiah must come, and so the word of salvation through the risen Messiah must be first preached unto them. Acts 3:26; 13:46. The work of the gospel must begin at Jerusalem. It was written by the prophet that the new covenant was to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Jeremiah 31:31. And by another prophet it was declared that the seventy weeks, which reached to the manifestation of the Messiah and the full confirmation of the new covenant, was appointed to that people. Daniel 9:24-27.FEE 54.6

    But this state of things was to continue only until the covenant was confirmed and offered to Israel. God had from the first included all mankind in the plan of salvation. His promise to Abraham was that in him all families of the earth should be blessed. Upon the lineal descendants of Abraham he bestowed the high honor of being the depositaries of his truth—of being that people who should carry the light to the world, and around whom the faithful should gather. In every age all who wished to might come into covenant relation with God. But the Jews were unfaithful to the trust committed to them. They not only neglected to carry the light to others, but they themselves rebelled against God. Even after they had, by severe captivity, been turned from idolatry, and had made a strict profession, they took away the key of knowledge, and would not enter into the kingdom themselves, nor suffer others to. It was because of this disposition that God cut them off. He bore long with them, but could not suffer them always to stand in the way of his plan to send the truth to all the world. In accordance with the promise, the Messiah came to them, and the gospel was first preached to them, that they might have one more opportunity to fulfill their mission. But they neglected Christ and the gospel, and so the kingdom was given to a nation that should bring forth the fruits thereof. Others received the word gladly, and proclaimed it to the ends of the earth. And so now, as was designed from the beginning, all who exercise faith in Christ are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29.FEE 55.1

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