Old Testament Synopsis

Table of Content

Course Assignment #1 Summary, Interpretation and Conclusion of the Old Testament April 5, 2010 Summary of Old Testament Table of contents: 1. Introduction 2. The historical background of the Old Testament 3. The Pentateuch 4. Historical books 5. Wisdom writings 6. Major and minor prophets 7. Conclusion 8. Works cited Introduction The Old Testament constitutes an essential and fundamental part of the Bible. In fact, the Old Testament comprises books which were written before the 12th and 2nd centuries BC. The Old Testament plays a significant role in the understanding of the Christian teaching.

At the same time, the Old Testament has a great historical value as a collection of books which recounts the history of the Jewish people. In actuality, the Old Testament comprises books which may be divided into five major categories: the Pentateuch, historical books, wisdom writings, books of major prophets and books of minor prophets. In such a way, the Old Testaments combines books which vary by genre and their themes. To put it more precisely, the Old Testaments contains the narration of the history of Jewish people and the emergence of Christianity as a powerful religion.

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In such a way, historical books are combined with books containing the basic information on Christian religion, including fundamental Mosaic laws. In addition, the Old Testaments contains prophecies concerning the future along with philosophical works that makes the entire work, created before Christ the major work and the {text:soft-page-break} basis of the early Christianity, which was used the foundation for the development of Christianity and the New Testament created by Christ and his disciples.

The historical background of the Old Testament The Old Testaments constitutes the large part of the Bible. In fact, the Old Testaments represents a collection of books that vary in genre and themes but which are united on the basis of the common historical ground and its major focus on the development of the Christian teaching. The Old Testament may be viewed as the backbone of the Bible prior to Christ since the books comprising the Old Testament were written by different authors in the period from the 12th to 2nd centuries BC.

On analyzing the history of the Old Testament, it is important to underline that the interpretation of original texts of books comprising the Old Testament vary substantially. To put it more precisely, specialists (Bahnsen et al. , 291) distinguish the Septuagint which is commonly accepted in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and the Latin translations of the Hebrew texts, including the translation made by Jerome, which are commonly accepted in Catholic Christian tradition. At this point, it should be said that the Septuagint represents the Greek translation of the original Hebrew texts.

Originally, the Greek translations were perceived as correct translations of the Old Testament. However, in the late 4th – early 5th century AD, Jerome’s translation of original Hebrew texts revealed the fact that the Greek translations were not absolutely precise and they did not always adequately conveyed the original message of ancient authors. At first, Jerome’s translations faced a strong opposition from the part of Christian theologies, including Augustine, who insisted on the correctness of the Greek translation.

Nevertheless, gradually, the Latin translations of the original Hebrew texts were accepted by western, Catholic theologies and clergymen. In spite of variations in interpretation and structure that can be traced in the Septuagint and the Latin translations of the Old Testament, its books are the heart of one of the major, world religions, Christianity. It is important to underline the fact that the Old Testament represents the narration of the ancient history of Jewish people its origin and development along with the narration concerning the development of Christianity and the

Christian teaching. The Old Testament comprises basic wisdoms, philosophical and religious concepts and ideas of Christianity, on the basis of which the Christian religion was shaped and later complemented by Christ and his disciples in the New Testament. Finally, the Old Testaments contains important prophecies related to the future, though the {text:soft-page-break} interpretation of these prophecies can vary and is not absolutely precise, which, though, is the characteristic of all prophecies. The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch consists of five books, which actually the Pentateuch is called after. Specialists (Anderson, 317) believe that first five books of the Bible comprising the Pentateuch were written by Moses after the forty year period in desert in c. 1406 BC. Basically, the five biblical books are dedicated to the origin of the world at large and Jewish people in particular. The primary concern of the books is to reveal the origin of the world and the early history of Jewish people as well as the role of God in the life of Jewish people.

At the same time, the five books contain fundamental principles of the Christian teaching, including the Moses Law, which are considered to be given by the God to Moses, who was a prophet and mediator between the God and Jewish people. In such a context, Moses can be viewed as the founding father of the Jewish state since it is Moses who brought the Jews to Israel after the 40 years of wandering in desert. Among the five books of the Pentateuch, Genesis is particularly noteworthy because it is the fundamental book in which the creation of the world by God is depicted in details.

It covers the period from 2500 BC to 1406 BC (Dever, 124). At the same time, Genesis deals with such issues as the primary sin and the expel of Adam and Eve from the Eden. Also, Genesis reveals the origin of Jewish people and the people who were the ancestors of Jews. It is worth mentioning the fact that Genesis mainly refers to males in the depiction of the origin of Jewish people while females are apparently secondary that reveals the patriarchal social system existing in ancient Jewish society.

Exodus recalls the story of the liberation of Jewish people from Egyptian enslavement and the start of the search of the new, Promised Land for Jewish people. The liberation movement was headed by Moses, but the book repeatedly lays emphasis on the fact that all the actions of Moses were guided and supported by God. At the same time, Jewish people is depicted as blessed people because they were supported by God and Jewish God is depicted as the only true God which helps defeat all the enemies of Jewish people allowing Moses make miracles and save his people.

Leviticus is mainly dedicated to the relationship of Jews and God. To put it more precisely, the book defines basic rules of the holy life which are provided by God to Israel and Jewish people. This book introduces basic norms, rules and rites which Jewish people had to obey in order to lead a virtuous lifestyle and, therefore, be rewarded by God and, eventually, find the salvation. Numbers depict 38 years wandering of Jewish people in desert under the guidance of Moses who proves to be not only the prophet but also the national leader, which united the nation and became its spiritual leader and guide in the desert.

The book depicts major events and turning points which defined the religious and spiritual life of Jewish people in the epoch and it also contains basic norms and rules, in accordance with which Jewish people should live. In this respect, Deuteronomy is particularly significant because this book is the repetition or copy of the Law given to Moses by God and Moses in his conveyed {text:soft-page-break} the laws granted by God to all of the Jews. Along with the repetition of basic, divine laws, the book contains the ending of the story of wandering of Jewish people and the end of the life of Moses.

The latter eventually bring Jews to the Promised Land and dies peacefully. Historical books Historical books of the Old Testament constitute an important part of the Bible because they depict the history of Jewish people as well as other peoples which contacted or invaded Jewish territories. At the same time, it is important to underline that the history of Jewish people is the primary concern of authors of historical books of the Old Testaments. These books are particularly valuable from the historical point of view because they are written historical evidences of past events which took place from 1406 to the 5th BC century.

Joshua is one of the main historical books of the Old Testament. Joshua is considered to be one of the former prophets in the Hebrew Bible (Berkowitz, 183). The book tells the history of crossing of the Jordan and the violent and brutal conquest of Canaan by Joshua. This was a holy war waged to claim the chosen land from the idolatrous and dissolute Canaanites. It is worth noting the fact that the military actions conducted by Jewish kings were amply supported by God who interfered to support Jewish armies and Jewish people in their struggle.

Judges is another historical book of the Bible which covers the period before the monarchy. It was the period of frequent apostasy and divine punishment of people who adopted Canaanite pagan practices. Instead, the worship of God was rewarded by the divine support. In such a way, the book depicts the strengthening of the Christian God as the major divine power and the main and only God of Jewish people. At the same time, the book depicts conflicts of Jews with other peoples. For instance, Judges depicts in details the conflict between Israelites and the Midianites who oppressed Jewish people.

In such a way, the development of religious foundations of Jewish people is accompanied by the narration of numerous conflicts of Jewish people and neighboring peoples. Ruth depicts the history of Israel in the period of a relative peace between Moab and Jewish people. The book was written during the period of monarchy. The major theme of the book is redemption. However, the book lays emphasis on the redemption not by blood and birth, but through self-giving love that fulfills God’s law.

In such a way, historical events are closely intertwined with religious teaching, promoting the faith in God and the importance of the obedience to the God’s law. 1 and 2 Samuel are important historical books which depict the history of Israel during the period of monarchy. The books depicts conflicts of Israel with neighboring states and its progress as a state. The reign of the Kind David occupies one of the central places in the books. In this respect, it is important to underline that such an attention of the author of these Biblical texts may be explained by the attention of David to religion.

In fact, David is depicted as an almost ideal theocratic king, who was a successful statesman and simultaneously attempted to live in accordance with divine laws and spread religion among masses of Jewish people. {text:soft-page-break} 1 and 2 Kings is also focused on the history of the ruling monarchs in Israel. These books are particularly noteworthy because they convey the history of the King Solomon, who was apparently one of the major figures in the history of Israel and one of the most successful kings who amply supported religion and met basic religious ideals. In such a way, he was a respectable successor of David. and 2 Chronicles continues the history of Jewish people they contain extensive genealogies, including David’s line. The books also depict major constructions of Jewish people at the epoch, including the temple Solomon had to be built. Other historical books of the Old Testament, including Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, tell the story of Jewish people. Basically, these books focus the attention of readers on the history of relationship of Jewish state and the Persian Empire, which grew in power in 6-5th century BC. The books depicts the struggle of Jewish people against the Persian occupation.

Wisdom or Poetical writings Wisdom writings, sometimes referred to as the Poetical Books, constitute a very important part of the Old Testament because these books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, incorporated the wisdom of Jewish people and its major thinkers, including the King Solomon, who became the symbol of wisdom. In fact, these books may be viewed as the philosophical basis of the Old Testament in which authors postulate basic principles, philosophical concepts and rules, which regulate human life, their internal world and relationship with divine forces.

At the same time, it is impossible to estimate that wisdom writings of the Old Testament represent only authentic works created by particular authors. In actuality, wisdom writings should be viewed as a quintessence of woks of the most outstanding thinkers, such as the King Solomon or Ecclesiast, and wisdom of Jewish people. In this respect, it is possible to refer to proverbs which rather contain ideas accumulated by Jewish people as a socio-cultural group than ideas of the author. In a way, it may be viewed as a collection of folkloric elements created by Jewish people.

However, it is important to underline that practically all these books contain references or imply basic divine laws which are fundamental for the Old Testament and their origin may be traced back to the Moses Laws. Prophetical Books (Major and minor prophets) The Old Testament contains a variety of books of prophets, among which it is possible to distinguish major prophets, who played a very significant role and are referenced to throughout the Bible as well as in other ancient literary works, and minor prophets, whose works are less renowned and well-known but still they contain prophecies which may be significant in terms of the Bible.

ISAIAH This book, as is true of all the prophetical books, derives its name from the prophet whose messages it records. The unity of Isaiah, a problem related to authorship and contents, has been the subject of much debate. The message of the book is twofold: judgment upon Judah for her sins (1-39), and comfort and hope for an exiled people (40-66). In these messages of encouragement are found some of the most graphic portrayals of the Messiah in the Old Testament. JEREMIAH Jeremiah was God’s spokesman during the decline and fall of the southern kingdom, Judah.

Among the Prophets not one had a more difficult task than that of standing alone for God in the midst of the apostasy of his own people, and not one who bares his soul to his reader as does Jeremiah. Although Jeremiah announced the coming destruction of Judah, he looked beyond this judgement to a day when religion, no longer national, would be individual and spiritual. This new kind of religion would result from God’s “new covenant” with His people. LAMENTATIONS Entitled in most English versions The Lamentations of Jeremiah, this book is placed immediately after Jeremiah in the Septuagint and English Bible.

In the Hebrew text it is found among the “Writings”. In spite of the ancient tradition that Jeremiah was the author, present scholarship is reluctant to accept this view. The book is composed of five poems, lamenting the siege and destruction of Jerusalem (586 B. C. ). The poet also makes sincere confession of sin on behalf of the people and leaders, acknowledges complete submission to the will of God, and finally prays that God will once again smile upon His people and restore them to their homeland. {text:soft-page-break} EZEKIEL Ezekiel was carried into exile in Babylon, where he received his call and exercised his prophetic ministry.

His dual role of prophet-priest and his position as “watchman” over his people make Ezekiel unique among the prophets and may account for the uniqueness of his message and his methods of delivery. The book contains 48 chapters, divided at the halfway point by the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s prophecies before this event are chiefly messages of condemnation upon Judah for her sin; following the city’s fall, the prophet speaks to helpless people of the hope and certainty of restoration to their homeland and of worship again in the Temple.

DANIEL In addition to the Four (4) Major Prophets, the Old Testament is made up of Twelve (12) Minor Prophets. A short synopsis of the Minor Prophets: HOSEA Sometimes called the “Prophet of Divine Love,” Hosea was a native of Israel and was called to be God’s spokesman during that kingdom’s darkest hour. The apostasy of his own people was enough to break Hosea’s heart, but he also bore a heavy cross in his own life – his wife had proved unfaithful.

In this bitter experience Hosea came to fathom God’s love for his erring children and pleads with his people to repent and avail themselves of God’s divine compassion and a love that will not let Israel go. JOEL Traditionally called the “Prophet of Pentecost,” since his prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit (2:28ff. ) is quoted by Peter (Acts 2:16) as being fulfilled at Pentecost, Joel was the kind of man who could see the eternal in the temporal. The occasion of his message was a devastating locust plague, which he interpreted as foreboding the Day of the Lord when God would act directly to punish His people for their sins.

Joel calls upon the people of Judah to repent, promising that repentance will bring God’s blessings, material and spiritual. AMOS Among the “writing” prophets Amos was the first of a new school, for, like Elijah and John the Baptist, he denounced sin with rustic boldness. A shepherd and native of Judah, he was called by God to prophesy to the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B. C. ). Sparing no one, the {text:soft-page-break} prophet fearlessly announced the impending judgment of God.

Although the dominant note of the book is judgment, the final words promise the restoration of a righteous remnant. OBADIAH This shortest of the prophetic books, containing only 21 verses, is a scathing denunciation of the Edomites, descendants of Esau, who from the beginning had been hostile to Israel. Its message is primarily one of destruction and doom for Edom. The latter part of the prophecy is concerned with the Day of the Lord when God’s judgment will be upon other nations as well as Edom and concludes with the promise that “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s”. JONAH

The Old Testament counterpart of John 3:16, this book declares the universality of God’s love embracing even pagan nations. Its authorship and historicity are disputed. If one is willing to accept the miraculous, there is no compelling reason to deny its historicity. There is a strong possibility that the book is about Jonah and not by him. The author relates how Jonah refused God’s call to preach to the people of Nineveh, his punishment for this disobedience, his ready response to a second summons, and his bitter complaint at God’s sparing the city following her repentance.

Christ Himself alludes to Jonah when speaking of His own death and Resurrection (Matt. 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29-32). MICAH The Prophet Micah was a younger contemporary of Isaiah and spoke at a time when conditions in Judah paralleled those in the northern kingdom of Israel during Amos’ day. Micah’s messages are strikingly similar to those of Amos: many of the same sins are denounced and the same rugged, direct, indignant, and convincing language is used. While announcing God’s certain judgment upon sin, he also spoke of a sure deliverance to come through the Messiah whose place of birth he predicts.

NAHUM This book is a vivid prediction of the approaching downfall of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, one of the most warlike of the ancient heathen nations. Of the Prophet Nahum, whose name means “consolation” or “comfort”, little is known. His purpose was to comfort his people, long harassed by Assyria, with the promise that this cruel and oppressing people would soon meet destruction at God’s hand. HABAKKUK While this book is true prophecy, its method is quite different from other writings of the prophets.

Dramatically constructed in the form of dialogue, this book contains the prophet’s complaints (questions) and God’s reply to them. In god’s answers Habakkuk discovers the doorway leading from questioning to affirmation, through which he enters into a faith that enables him to affirm, “I will rejoice in the Lord… God, the Lord, is my strength. ” {text:soft-page-break} ZEPHANIAH This book, though brief, is comprehensive, embracing the two great themes of prophetic teaching: judgment and salvation – both extending to all nations. In some great catastrophe of his day, perhaps the Scythian invasion (c. 26 B. C. ), Zephaniah sees God’s terrible judgment upon the nations, including Judah. He exhorts the people to repent and assures them that God will dwell in the midst of a righteous remnant following repentance. HAGGAI This book, the first among the writings of the post-Exilic prophets, consists of four prophecies delivered within the space of 4 months, some 15 years after the return of the first exiles to Jerusalem. Work on the second Temple has begun shortly after the exiles’ arrival, but had been delayed for almost two decades.

Haggai comes forward with a series of timely and vigorous messages challenging the people to respond wholeheartedly to a noble task – rebuilding the House of God. ZECHARIAH Sometimes called the “Apocalypse of the Old Testament”, this book contains the messages of the Prophet Zechariah, a contemporary of Haggai. The main division of the book (1-8, 9-14) are noticeably dissimilar in both style and subject matter, a fact that has led some to assign the last division (9-14) to another author. The first eight chapters are primarily concerned with the rebuilding of the Temple, although the language used is highly symbolical.

Chapters 9 to 14 deal with “last things”, the “end time”. Many Messianic references are found, and the writer foresees the Day of the Lord when Israel will be restored, the nations judged, and God’s kingdom triumphant. MALACHI The name of the last book of the Old Testament and of the Prophet whose oracles it contains. Malachi ( from Hebrew meaning “my messenger”) is an invaluable source concerning the Judaean Jews during the Persian period. Two themes are predomination: the sin and apostasy of Israel (1-2); and the coming judgment upon the faithless, with blessings promised for those who repent (3-4).

The growing Messianic expectation in the Old Testament is apparent in Malachi by the announcement of God’s “messenger of the covenant”, by whose coming Israel will be purified and judged; and of the return of the Prophet Elijah who will proclaim the Day of the Lord. Conclusion Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the Old Testament contains a variety of books which are quite different by their genre and theme but which are united by the common religious background and history.

To put it more precisely, the Old Testament depicts the history of the development of Jewish people and Jewish state of Israel and historic perturbations it had to {text:soft-page-break} pass through. At the same time, the Old Testament represents the Biblical version of the creation of the world by God and provides basic religious, moral and ethical norms, rules and rites which defined the life of Jewish people and which laid foundation for the Christian tradition and partially Judaist tradition.

Finally, the book contains wisdom accumulated by Jewish people and its most outstanding representatives as well as numerous prophecies concerning the nearest and distant future. Works cited: Anderson, Bernhard. Understanding the Old Testament. New York: Random House, 2006. Bahnsen, Greg, et al. Five Views on Law and Gospel. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1993. Berkowitz, Ariel. Torah Rediscovered. 4th ed. Shoreshim Publishing, 2004. Dever, William G. Who Were the Early Israelites? William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. , Grand Rapids, MI, 2003. A Survey of the Old Testament, Expanded and Redesigned by Andrew E.

Hill & John H. Walton discuss the importance of the Pentateuch; describe the major events (Creation, Fall, Flood, etc. ) in Genesis 1-11; summarize some of the theories associated with those events; and explain the significance of the four key patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Genesis 1-11 Importance of the Pentateuch. *The Pentateuch covers the beginning of the world. It is not about evolution but it assumes a Creator. It is not a conflict with science but it is a conflict with any world view that does not start without a Creator.

The Pentateuch should not be taken as a black and white situation however a discu*ssion should be looked at as a the origin of creation and not be defined as the process of creation. How God created the Earth has been a debate for centuries. Some say there was a sudden explosion and the universe appeared. Others say God started the process and the universe evolved over billions of years. Almost every ancient religion has its own story to explain how the earth came to be. And almost every scientist has an opinion on the origin of the universe.

But only the Bible shows one supreme God creating the earth out of his great love and giving all people a special place in it. There are two different theories as to how long it took God to create the earth. Each day was a literal 24 hour period or each day represented an indefinite period of time. The Bible does not say ow long these time periods were. The question is not how long but how he did it. God created the earth in an orderly fashion and he created men and women as unique beings capable of communication with him. Whether it took 7 days or 7 million years, the fact remains he did it.

In the story of Cain and Abel, we see early evidence of themes that are prevalent throughout the Bible. Cain and Abel are types or metaphors, representing the heart-sets (versus mindsets) of humanity. Cain was a tiller of the earth and Abel a keeper of flocks. (Genesis 4:2) Cain represents the concept of salvation through works and Abel the concept of salvation by grace. Pride, anger, sin and God’s mercy are all revealed in this short story from Scripture. The story revolves around a rejected sacrifice. In order to understand the significance of the story, we have to understand the purpose and significance of sacrifice.

Sacrifices are presented as a way to wash away sin and restore a right relationship with God. Acceptable sacrifices are made with a humble heart that acknowledges and accepts God’s grace. God told Noah, “Everything that is on the earth shall die” by a flood. (Gen. 6:17; 7:4). Noah was also told that the Ark would save his family (four married couples) and a male and female pair of every kind of “unclean” animal and 7 each (or 7 pairs) of every “clean” animal. (Gen. 6:18-19). Noah was also instructed to store food in the Ark for his family and for all the animals. (Gen. 6:21). Noah did “all that God commanded him. (Gen. 6:22; 7:5). Seven days before the rain started, God ordered Noah, who was 600 years old, to come into the Ark with his family and all the animals. (Gen. 7:1-4, 6). God sealed them in the Ark. (Gen. 7:16). God caused water to both rise up from below the earth and to fall from the sky for 40 days, until the water was 22 feet deep over the highest mountain. (Gen. 7:11-12, 19-20). Everyone and everything **that had lived on dry ground was drowned. Only those in the Ark survived. (Gen. 7:21-23). *After 150 days the water began to subside. The Ark came to rest on a high mountain of Ararat.

Three months later the tops of the mountains could be seen. (Gen. 8:3-5). When the surface of the ground was dry enough, the Bible says that God told Noah to go out of the Ark, 365 days after he entered it. (Gen. 8:16). *Later, God made a promise that “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. ” The rainbow is the sign of His covenant. (Gen. 9:8-17). Up until this point in the Bible, the whole world had one language – one common speech for all people. The people of the earth became skilled in construction and decided to build a city with a tower that would reach to heaven.

By building the tower they wanted to make a name for themselves and also prevent their city from being scattered. God came to see their city and the tower they were building. He perceived their intentions, and in His infinite wisdom, He knew this “stairway to heaven” would only lead the people away from God. He noted the powerful force within their unity of purpose. As a result, God confused their language, causing them to speak different languages so they would not understand each other. By doing this, God thwarted their plans. He also scattered the people of the city all over the face of the earth.

The Mosaic Covenant is first revealed in the Pentateuch, Exodus 2:24, “So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. ” Three months after leaving the land of Egypt, the children of Israel camped at the base of Mount Sinai (Exo. 19:1). God promised to make a covenant with the Israelites (Exo. 19:3-6). Before they even knew the conditions of the contract, the people agreed to abide by whatever God said (Exo. 19:8). The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant made between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-24).

It is sometimes called the Sinai Covenant but is more often referred to as the Mosaic Covenant since Moses was God’s chosen leader of Israel at that time. The pattern of the covenant is very similar to other ancient covenants of that time because it is between a sovereign King (God) and his people or subjects (Israel). At the time of the covenant God reminded the people of their obligation to be obedient to His law (Exodus 19:5) and the people agreed to the covenant when they said; All that the Lord has spoken we will do! (Exodus 19:8).

This covenant would serve to set the nation of Israel apart from all other nations as God’s chosen people and was as equally binding as the unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham because it is also a blood covenant. The Mosaic Covenant is a significant covenant in both God’s redemptive history and in the history of the nation of Israel through whom God would choose to bless the world with both His Written Word and the Living Word, Jesus Christ. The Mosaic covenant was centered around God giving His divine law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In understanding the different covenants in the Bible and their relationship with one another it is important to understand that the Mosaic Covenant differs significantly from the Abrahamic Covenant and later biblical covenants because it is conditional in that the blessings that God promises are directly related to Israel’s obedience to the Mosaic Law. If Israel is obedient then God will bless them, but if they disobey then God will punish them. The blessings and curses that are associated with this conditional covenant are found in detail in Deuteronomy 28.

The other covenants found in the Bible were unilateral covenants of promise, in which God bound Himself to do what He promised, regardless of what the recipients of the promises might do. On the other hand the Mosaic Covenant is a bilateral agreement, which specifies the obligations of both parties to the covenant. {text:soft-page-break} The Mosaic Covenant is especially significant because in it God promises to make Israel “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ” (Exodus 19:6) Israel was to be God’s light to the dark world around them.

They were to be a separate and called out nation so that everyone around them would know that they worshiped Yahweh, the covenant keeping God. It is significant because it is here that Israel received the Mosaic Law that was to be a schoolmaster pointing the way towards the coming of Christ. (Galatians 3:24-25) The Mosaic Law would reveal to people their sinfulness and their need for a Savior and it is the Mosaic Law that Christ Himself said that He did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

This is an important point because some people get confused by thinking that keeping the Law saved people in the Old Testament, but the Bible is clear that salvation has always been by faith alone and the promise of salvation by faith that God had made to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic covenant still remained in effect (Galatians 3:16-18). Also the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Covenant did not really take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4), it simply foreshadowed the bearing of sin by Christ, the perfect high priest Who was also the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-28).

Therefore the Mosaic Covenant itself, with all its detailed laws, could not save people. It is not that there was any problem with the law itself, for the law is perfect and was given by a Holy God, but the law had no power to give people new life, and the people were not able to obey the law perfectly (Galatians 3:21). The Mosaic Covenant is also referred to as the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 8:6, 13) and was replaced by the New Covenant in Christ (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; 8:13; 9:15; 12:24).

The New Covenant in Christ, is far better than the old Mosaic Covenant that it replaces because it fulfills the promises made in Jeremiah 31:31-34 as quoted in Hebrews 8. Some of the major events of the Mosaic Covenant include, the deliverance of Isreal from Egypt It should be noted here that this covenant was between God and the people of Israel — you and I are not a party in this contract (and never have been).

The Ten Commandments are the foundation of the covenant, but they are not the entirety of it. After giving the first ten commands, the people asked the Lord to speak no more (Exo. 20:18-20). Moses then drew near to the presence of God to hear the rest of the covenant (Exo. 20:21). After receiving the Law, Moses spoke the words of the covenant to all of the people, and the people agreed to obey (Exo. 24:4).

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