Moses continues his review of the law by following a loose pattern of the 10 commandments. Today’s reading includes instructions concerning festivals (chapt. 16) – which is loosely patterned after the 4th commandment (keep the Sabbath holy) – as well as laws concerning various leaders (chapt. 17-18) – which is patterned after the 5th commandment (honor your parents).
In today’s reading in Mark, we see Jesus eat his last meal before He is betrayed. Listen to His words…
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14: 22-24).
He alludes to “the blood of the covenant.” This echoes Moses’ words in Exodus after the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai…
Then [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And 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” (Exodus 24:7-8).
Notice that the covenant Moses institutes at Mt. Sinai is a covenant of works. The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant. God promises to bless the people but only if they obey the law. The new covenant that Jesus institutes is an unconditional covenant – a covenant of grace. Jesus fulfills all the requirements of the old covenant – perfectly – and then offers to transfer his perfect record to us. This is grace.
Many Christians wonder why God gave the law if He planned to replace it with a new covenant. But the law wasn’t replaced… it was fulfilled. The law was necessary to teach us the holy standard of God. If there were no law, there would not be a need for grace!
Both the Old and New covenants flow from the unconditional promises found in the covenant God made with Abraham – that He would make for himself a great nation and through Abraham’s descendants, all of the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3) – and that He would be our God, and we would be His people (Leviticus 26:13).
We are covenant breakers, but God is the covenant keeper. We are blessed because of the promise made to Abraham which finds its fulfillment in the work of Christ. Jesus is the ultimate fulfiller. Moses prophesies of Jesus in Deuteronomy 18…
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him (Deuteronomy 18:18).
Because of Jesus, we can call God “our God” and He can call us “His people.” For this, I am grateful :)