Mosaic Covenant Quotes

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Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? Where is your tribal memory? Sirs, in that gray vault. The sea. The sea has locked them up. The sea is History. First, there was the heaving oil, heavy as chaos; then, likea light at the end of a tunnel, the lantern of a caravel, and that was Genesis. Then there were the packed cries, the shit, the moaning: Exodus. Bone soldered by coral to bone, mosaics mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow, that was the Ark of the Covenant. Then came from the plucked wires of sunlight on the sea floor the plangent harp of the Babylonian bondage, as the white cowries clustered like manacles on the drowned women, and those were the ivory bracelets of the Song of Solomon, but the ocean kept turning blank pages looking for History. Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors who sank without tombs, brigands who barbecued cattle, leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore, then the foaming, rabid maw of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal, and that was Jonah, but where is your Renaissance? Sir, it is locked in them sea sands out there past the reef's moiling shelf, where the men-o'-war floated down; strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself. It's all subtle and submarine, through colonnades of coral, past the gothic windows of sea fans to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed, blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen; and these groined caves with barnacles pitted like stone are our cathedrals, and the furnace before the hurricanes: Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills into marl and cornmeal, and that was Lamentations - that was just Lamentations, it was not History; then came, like scum on the river's drying lip, the brown reeds of villages mantling and congealing into towns, and at evening, the midges' choirs, and above them, the spires lancing the side of God as His son set, and that was the New Testament. Then came the white sisters clapping to the waves' progress, and that was Emancipation - jubilation, O jubilation - vanishing swiftly as the sea's lace dries in the sun, but that was not History, that was only faith, and then each rock broke into its own nation; then came the synod of flies, then came the secretarial heron, then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote, fireflies with bright ideas and bats like jetting ambassadors and the mantis, like khaki police, and the furred caterpillars of judges examining each case closely, and then in the dark ears of ferns and in the salt chuckle of rocks with their sea pools, there was the sound like a rumour without any echo of History, really beginning.
Derek Walcott (Selected Poems)
We are bound to conclude, therefore, that the newness of the New Covenant cannot involve the elimination of the curse sanction as a component of the covenant and that this newness consequently poses no problem for the interpretation of Christian baptism as a sign of ordeal embracive of both blessing and curse. In confirmation of this conclusion we may recall that John the Baptist analyzed the work of the coming One as a baptism of judgment in the Holy Spirit and fire. Christ so baptized the Mosaic covenant community and he so baptizes the congregation of the New Covenant. Pentecost belongs to both the old and new orders. It was the beginning of the messianic ordeal visited on the Mosaic community. Those who received that baptism of Pentecost emerged vindicated as the people of the New Covenant, the inheritors of the kingdom. Pentecost was thus a baptismal ordeal in Spirit and fire in which redemptive covenant realized its proper end.
Meredith Kline (For You & Your Children)
Pistis does not signify mere acknowledgment of a truth claim, or stand, in contrast to works. Rather, like Heb ’emunah, it signifies loyalty and trust, which include appropriate behavior; hence, faithfulness. Where Paul contrasts faithfulness to deeds, he is actually contrasting two different propositions for two different groups (non-Jews or Jews), and thus two different ways of being faithful (by non-Jews, apart from circumcision and thus not under Mosaic covenant obligations because they do not become Jews/Israelites; by Jews, including circumcision and concomitant Mosaic covenant obligations). Paul opposes the idea that the faithfulness of Christ-following Gentiles should be measured by the obligation of faithfulness to proselyte conversion, which he indicates generally by reference to “circumcision” or “works of law.” Later, in the argument of Romans, especially chs 6–8; 11–15, Paul defines the faithful lifestyle expected of Gentiles.
Amy-Jill Levine (The Jewish Annotated New Testament)
In their hermeneutical practices, the Anabaptists were adamant that the New Testament, as the Word of Christ, is the completion of the Old Testament. In the Schleitheim Confession, Sattler and the Swiss Brethren interpreted the Old Testament through the New Testament rather than as a flat document that confuses the two covenants. The Old Testament—more properly, the prophets from Noah to John the Baptist—was a preparation and “figure” that indicated not itself but Jesus Christ. Noah’s deluge is a “figure of what saves you,” spiritual baptism; the Abramic practice and Mosaic command to circumcise is a “testimony” to spiritual purification; John the Baptist “pointed with his finger to Jesus the Lamb of God.”22 This fulfillment of the Old in the New, with its progression of New over Old, fostered profound differences with the Magisterial Reformers. The Anabaptists believed the Reformed conflated the two covenants and thereby departed from Scripture: “they have not so much as a dot in Scripture.”23
Malcolm B. Yarnell III (The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists: Restoring New Testament Christianity)
Not only is man, as a category, created in God’s image; all individual men are also created in God’s image. In this sense they are all equal. Nor is this equality notional; it is real in one all-important sense. All Israelites are equal before God, and therefore equal before his law. Justice is for all, irrespective of other inequalities which may exist. All kinds of privileges are implicit and explicit in the Mosaic code, but on essentials it does not distinguish between varieties of the faithful. All, moreover, shared in accepting the covenant; it was a popular, even a democratic, decision.
Paul Johnson (History of the Jews)
For the question of abortion, perhaps the most significant passage of all is found in the specific laws God gave Moses for the people of Israel during the time of the Mosaic covenant. One particular law spoke of the penalties to be imposed in case the life or health of a pregnant woman or her preborn child was endangered or harmed: When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Exod. 21:22–25).1 This law concerns a situation when men are fighting and one of them accidentally hits a pregnant woman. Neither one of them intended to do this, but as they fought they were not careful enough to avoid hitting her. If that happens, there are two possibilities: 1. If this causes a premature birth but there is no harm to the pregnant woman or her preborn child, there is still a penalty: “The one who hit her shall surely be fined” (v. 22). The penalty was for carelessly endangering the life or health of the pregnant woman and her child. We have similar laws in modern society, such as when a person is fined for drunken driving, even though he has hit no one with his car. He recklessly endangered human life and health, and he deserved a fine or other penalty. 2. But “if there is harm” to either the pregnant woman or her child, then the penalties are quite severe: “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth …” (vv. 23–24). This means that both the mother and the preborn child are given equal legal protection. The penalty for harming the preborn child is just as great as for harming the mother. Both are treated as persons, and both deserve the full protection of the law.2
Wayne Grudem (Politics - According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture)
This law is even more significant when we put it in the context of other laws in the Mosaic covenant. In other cases in the Mosaic law where someone accidentally caused the death of another person, there was no requirement to give “life for life,” no capital punishment. Rather, the person who accidentally caused someone else’s death was required to flee to one of the “cities of refuge” until the death of the high priest (see Num. 35:9–15, 22–29). This was a kind of “house arrest,” although the person had to stay within a city rather than within a house for a limited period of time. It was a far lesser punishment than “life for life.” This means that God established for Israel a law code that placed a higher value on protecting the life of a pregnant woman and her preborn child than the life of anyone else in Israelite society. Far from treating the death of a preborn child as less significant than the death of others in society, this law treats the death of a preborn child or its mother as more significant and worthy of more severe punishment. And the law does not place any restriction on the number of months the woman was pregnant. Presumably it would apply from a very early stage in pregnancy, whenever it could be known that a miscarriage had occurred and her child or children had died as a result. Moreover, this law applies to a case of accidental killing of a preborn child. But if accidental killing of a preborn child is so serious in God’s eyes, then surely intentional killing of a preborn child must be an even worse crime. The conclusion from all of these verses is that the Bible teaches that we should think of the preborn child as a person from the moment of conception, and we should give to the preborn child legal protection at least equal to that of others in the society. Additional note: It is likely that many people reading this evidence from the Bible, perhaps for the first time, will already have had an abortion. Others reading this will have encouraged someone else to have an abortion. I cannot minimize or deny the moral wrong involved in this action, but I can point to the repeated offer of the Bible that God will give forgiveness of sins to those who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Although such sin, like all other sin, deserves God’s wrath, Jesus Christ took that wrath on himself as a substitute for all who would believe in him: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). b. Scientific
Wayne Grudem (Politics - According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture)
This law is even more significant when we put it in the context of other laws in the Mosaic covenant. In other cases in the Mosaic law where someone accidentally caused the death of another person, there was no requirement to give “life for life,” no capital punishment. Rather, the person who accidentally caused someone else’s death was required to flee to one of the “cities of refuge” until the death of the high priest (see Num. 35:9–15, 22–29). This was a kind of “house arrest,” although the person had to stay within a city rather than within a house for a limited period of time. It was a far lesser punishment than “life for life.” This means that God established for Israel a law code that placed a higher value on protecting the life of a pregnant woman and her preborn child than the life of anyone else in Israelite society. Far from treating the death of a preborn child as less significant than the death of others in society, this law treats the death of a preborn child or its mother as more significant and worthy of more severe punishment. And the law does not place any restriction on the number of months the woman was pregnant. Presumably it would apply from a very early stage in pregnancy, whenever it could be known that a miscarriage had occurred and her child or children had died as a result. Moreover, this law applies to a case of accidental killing of a preborn child. But if accidental killing of a preborn child is so serious in God’s eyes, then surely intentional killing of a preborn child must be an even worse crime. The conclusion from all of these verses is that the Bible teaches that we should think of the preborn child as a person from the moment of conception, and we should give to the preborn child legal protection at least equal to that of others in the society. Additional note: It is likely that many people reading this evidence from the Bible, perhaps for the first time, will already have had an abortion. Others reading this will have encouraged someone else to have an abortion. I cannot minimize or deny the moral wrong involved in this action, but I can point to the repeated offer of the Bible that God will give forgiveness of sins to those who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Although such sin, like all other sin, deserves God’s wrath, Jesus Christ took that wrath on himself as a substitute for all who would believe in him: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Wayne Grudem (Politics - According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture)
Although it is true that it is a covenant, to confuse this covenant with the Mosaic covenant could set a person on his or her way towards Replacement Theology and miss the purposes that remain for Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. The
Matthew Stamper (Covenantal Dispensationalism: An Examination of the Similarities and Differences Between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism)
Above all, Jesus' understanding of the Old Testament established some new paradigms. Read properly, in its linear, historical sequence, the Old Testament storyline does not lay as much emphasis on the Law of Moses as some thought. Indeed, the Mosaic Covenant turns out to be a failure, in terms of how well it changed people. Its brightest success is in providing the models that predict what the ultimate Savior, the ultimate priest, the ultimate temple, the ultimate sacrifice, would look like. And Paul is the apostle who not only preaches this mystery, but does so to the Gentiles, the people most affected by its content.
Donald Arthur Carson (For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1)
The Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant, meaning that both parties were responsible to fulfill a duty to the other. The people were responsible to follow the Law. In return, God promised to abundantly bless and protect Israel (Exodus 19:5-8). The conditional nature of the Mosaic covenant made it very different from the Abrahamic Covenant, which was unconditional. In an unconditional covenant, God's favor, provisions, and blessings are based on His promises rather than on the actions of the people.
Earl Bristow (Revelation and Daniel Reveal How and When the World Ends (End of World Series Book 4))
Also, you must study the fact that the “Abrahamic Covenant,” and the “Mosaic Covenant,” are two different things.
Martin Sondermann (Mark(s) of the Beast: It's More Than Just a Number)
The old Day of Atonement, once held every year in accordance with the Mosaic covenant, has been superseded, because we have the ultimate sacrifice for sin: Jesus himself, who shed his blood on our behalf, a perfect moral sacrifice. He offers up his life, takes our death, and bears our sin away in a fashion that no animal ever could. The law pointed forward to that sole means of God reconciling rebels to himself and brings together in Jesus the poles of Exodus 34: God abounds “in love and faithfulness” (34:6), and he forgives “wickedness, rebellion and sin” (34:7), not because he leaves the guilty unpunished but because another bears their punishment. Here is the God who legislates, and even in his legislation he points us to Jesus.
Donald Arthur Carson (The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story)
As he and Beth hit the stairs, he called out to his brothers, “Thanks for having my back once again.” The group stopped and turned to face him. After a beat of silence, they formed a half circle around the foot of the grand staircase, each making a thick fist with his weapon hand. With a great whoop! of a war cry, they went down on their right knee and slammed their heavy knuckles into the mosaic floor. The sound was thunder and bass drums and bomb explosions, ricocheting outward, filling all the rooms of the mansion. Wrath stared at them, seeing their heads bent, their broad backs curled, their powerful arms planted. They had each gone to that meeting prepared to take a bullet for him, and that would ever be true. Behind Tohr’s smaller form, Lassiter, the fallen angel, stood with a straight spine, but he wasn’t cracking any jokes at this reaffirmation of allegiance. Instead, he was back to staring at the damn ceiling. Wrath glanced up at the mural of warriors silhouetted against a blue sky and could see nothing much of the pictures that he’d been told were there. Getting back with the program, he said in the Old Language, “No stronger allies, no greater friends, no better fighters of honor could a king behold than these assembled afore me, mine brothers, mine blood.” A rolling growl of ascent lifted as the warriors got to their feet again, and Wrath nodded to each one of them. He had no more words to offer as his throat had abruptly choked, but they didn’t seem to need anything else. They stared at him with respect and gratitude and purpose, and he accepted their enormous gifts with grave appreciation and resolve. This was the ages-old covenant between king and subjects, the pledges on both sides made with the heart and carried out by the sharp mind and the strong body. “God, I love you guys,” Beth said. There was a lot of deep laughter, and then Hollywood said, “You want us to stab the floor for you again? Fists are for kings, but the queen gets the daggers.” “I wouldn’t want you to take chips out of this beautiful floor. Thank you, though.” “Say the word and it’s nothing but rubble.” Beth laughed. “Be still, my heart.” The Brothers came over and kissed the Saturnine Ruby that rode on her finger, and as each paid his honor, she gave him a gentle stroke of the hair. Except for Zsadist, who she smiled tenderly at. “Excuse us, boys,” Wrath said. “Little quiet time, feel me?” There was a ripple of male approval, which Beth took in stride—and with a blush—and then it was time for some privacy.
J.R. Ward (Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #7))
As we are in the Church age, which is an age of grace rather than the theocracy of Mosaic times, we are no longer under the Law as such. Dr. Geisler cogently summarizes these distinctions: “While the basic moral principles, reflective of God’s moral nature, embedded in the theocratic construct of Old Testament Israel, are the same immutable principles expressed in the context of grace for the New Testament church, nevertheless, church-age believers are not under Mosaic Law, which has been fulfilled and passed away.”73 I must briefly acknowledge that some theologians seem to disagree with this description of the relationship between the Law and the Gospel or the Law and grace, at least in a technical sense. Kaiser urges that we reject the idea that the Law ceases to be valid just because Jesus fulfilled its requirements for all believers. The Law itself is still valid, he claims, it’s just that we are empowered to obey it through faith. Kaiser is not arguing that we are saved by obeying the Law, as our salvation is purely from our faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross. He seems to be saying, however, that it still remains the perfect standard for holiness—and who can argue with that? He cites Paul, who asks, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31).74 As I will discuss further in the next chapter in connection with the New Covenant, we can all acknowledge that God’s Law is perfect because its Maker is perfect. It was never intended, however, to impart life (Gal. 3:21).
David Limbaugh (Finding Jesus in the Old Testament)
By the time of the Mosaic covenant, the peace offering (Lev 17:11ff.) was the divinely prescribed means of maintaining a harmonious relationship between God and his covenant people. The sin offering (Lev 4) dealt with sin as a barrier between the worshipers and God. This sin offering was a slaughtered bull, lamb, or goat with which the worshiper had identified himself by laying his hands on its head. When the blood of the victim, signifying its life (Lev 17:11), was daubed on the horns of the altar, symbolizing the presence of God, God and the worshipers were united in a renewed relationship.
Donald Arthur Carson (Worship by the Book)
both the Mosaic law and the grace of the new covenant, as both fitted for the times [at which they were given], were bestowed by one and the same God for the benefit of the human race.
The Church Fathers (The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection)
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. Translation: Just because you’re no longer under the Mosaic covenant, don’t abuse your newfound freedom in Jesus; don’t give in to your disordered desires. Instead, give yourself over to the relational constraints of love.
John Mark Comer (Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace)
Now the Bible tells us that believing Jews continued to circumcise their sons, while graciously not insisting that the Gentiles start circumcising their sons. The debate in the early church was not whether the Jews should stop circumcising their sons; it was whether the Gentiles had to start. The decision of the Jerusalem council was not that individual Gentiles did not have to be circumcised. If circumcision had been required of them, it would have obligated them to live as Jews under the Mosaic law—which included the circumcision of all subsequent generations. Circumcision was not being waived for individual Gentiles; circumcision was being waived for Gentiles and their seed. So the Christian church did not insist that Gentiles circumcise their infants—not because they were infants, but because they were Gentile infants.
Douglas Wilson (To a Thousand Generations: Infant Baptism - Covenant Mercy to the Children of God)
For the new covenant apostles, Jew-Gentile unity is pivotal to the early church. It is about more than human relational harmony. Instead, it acknowledges that God’s kingdom purposes are in Christ. He is the last man and the true Israel, the bearer of the Spirit. A Jewish person who clings to the tribal markings of the old covenant acts as though the eschaton has not arrived, as though one were still waiting for the promised seed. Both Jews and Gentiles must instead see their identities not in themselves or in the flesh but in Jesus Christ and in him alone. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham, the one who deserves the throne of David. He is the obedient Israel who inherits the blessings of the Mosaic covenant. He is the propitiation of God’s wrath. He is the firstborn from the dead, the resurrection and the life. Those who are in Christ – whether Jew or Gentile – receive with him all the eschatological blessings that are due to him. In him, they are all, whether Jew or Gentile, sons of God – not only in terms of relationship with the Father but also in terms of promised inheritance (Rom 8:12-17). In Christ, they all – whether Jew or Gentile – are sons of Abraham, the true circumcision, the holy nation, and the household and commonwealth of God (Gal 3:23-4:7; Eph 2-3; Col 2:6-15; 3:3-11; 1 Pet 2:9-10).…
A. Blake White (The Abrahamic Promises in Galatians)
The law was never viewed as defining justice exclusively within the narrow confines of Israel. "All of the statutes" revealed by Moses for the covenant nation were a model to be emulated by the non-covenantal nations as well [Deuteronomy 4:6-8]. Accordingly, the Mosaic law was a standard by which unredeemed Canaanite tribes were punished [Leviticus 18:24-271 and which "non-theocratic" rulers were called to obey [Psalm 119:46; Proverbs 16:12] or prophetically denounced for violating [Isaiah 14:4-11; Jeremiah 25:12; Ezekiel 28:1-10; Amos 2:1-3; etc.].
Greg L. Bahnsen (Theonomy in Christian Ethics)
Translation: Just because you're no longer under the Mosaic covenant, don't abuse your newfound freedom in Jesus; don't give in to your disordered desires. Instead, give yourself over to the relational constraints of love.
John Mark Comer (Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace)
The old covenant administration of law (or the Mosaic administration itself) did not offer a way of salvation or teach a message of justification that differs from the one found in the gospel of the new covenant. Recognizing that in God’s sight no one could be justified (Ps. 143:2), the old covenant promised justification grounded in “the LORD Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:6). The old covenant witness was that righteousness had to be imputed, even to the great father of the Jews, Abraham (Gen. 15:6; cf. Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6). Accordingly, the literature of the Old Testament provides abundant evidence that God’s saints were people of faith (cf. Heb. 11). Paul came to understand very clearly that the old covenant itself taught that the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4; cf. Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11). Isaiah the prophet proclaimed: “In the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous” (Isa. 45:25); and later, “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me, declares the LORD” (54:17).
Greg L. Bahnsen (Five Views on Law and Gospel (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology))
Monogamous heterosexual marriage was always viewed as the divine norm from the outset of creation. Mosaic instruction shows considerable efforts to safeguard this ideal against its dissolution by clarifying what is ‘family.’ Sexuality was instrumental in defining what a household was in Israel; abrogation of sexual boundaries threatened the identity of this core social institution. Without proper limits 'family' ceased, and the consequence was the undoing of Israel as a nation, the same fate suffered by their predecessors (Lev 18:24–30).
Kenneth A. Mathews (Genesis 1–11:26: The Christian Standard Commentary)
In general, in the Mosaic books, style mirrors substance. The way something is said is often connected to what is being said.
Jonathan Sacks (Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant (Covenant & Conversation Book 5))
To run and work the law commands, Yet gives me neither feet nor hands; But better news the gospel brings: It bids me fly and gives me wings.3
Jason C. Meyer (The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology (New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology Book 6))
The new covenant is the eschatological fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants by bringing the Abrahamic promises to bear on Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus Christ. What is new in the new covenant is the death and resurrection of Jesus as the means of salvation, Jesus as the object of faith, God’s people as multiethnic, and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The obligations of the new covenant are not the moral law of the Decalogue but the example of Jesus, the teaching of Jesus, and life in the Spirit. Those things represent the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2) and their performance fulfills the Mosaic law. Nonetheless, the law remains as a type of wisdom for Christian living, but it no longer defines the constitution or conduct for God’s people.
Michael F. Bird (Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction)
Paul has labored to demonstrate that believers are no longer under the Mosaic covenant and the law and that they live in the days when the promise given to Abraham has been fulfilled. Therefore, in both 3:26–29 and 4:1–7 he emphasizes that believers belong to the family of Abraham. They are God’s sons and heirs. In 4:8–11, however, Paul explains why he fears that his apostolic labors may be in vain. The Galatians are relapsing back into paganism, but in a most remarkable way, for their relapse manifests itself in their desire to subject themselves to the Mosaic law.
Thomas R. Schreiner (Galatians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament series Book 9))
Fesko also misreads the contrast that Calvin subsequently draws in the Institutes between the “law” and “gospel.” Fesko interprets Calvin’s contrast to teach a real contrast between the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace (at least at some level) and the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Fesko, the contrast is that between the Mosaic covenant, which communicates a “works principle” for obtaining life, and the gospel, which communicates a promise of life by grace through faith in Christ alone. However, the passage that Fesko adduces for his understanding of this contrast shows that Calvin identifies the contrast as that between a “legalistic” misappropriation of the law of Moses, abstracted from its setting within the broader administration of the Mosaic covenant and used as a means of justification before God, and the gospel. In the passage to which Fesko appeals, Calvin is explaining the contrast in Hebrews between the law and the gospel, and the reason the author appeals to the promise of Jeremiah 31:31–34. In his explanation, Calvin maintains that the contrast is between the law in the narrowest sense, namely, in terms of what it demands, promises, and threatens, and the gospel. However, this contrast is not between the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace and the gospel, since the Mosaic administration also reveals God’s promises of mercy and gracious correction of human depravity. For the apostle [author of Hebrews] speaks more opprobriously of the law than the prophet does—not simply in respect to the law itself, but, because of certain wretches who aped the law and, by their perverse zeal for ceremonies, obscured the clarity of the gospel. Their error and stupid predilection prompt Paul to discuss the nature of the law. It behooves us therefore to note that particular point in Paul. But both Jeremiah and Paul, because they are contrasting the Old and New Testaments, consider nothing in the law except what properly belongs to it. For example: the law contains here and there promises of mercy, but because they have been borrowed from elsewhere, they are not counted part of the law, when only the nature of the law is under discussion. They ascribe to it only this function: to enjoin what is right, to forbid what is wicked; to promise a reward to the keepers of righteousness, and threaten transgressors with punishment; but at the same time not to change or correct the depravity of heart that by nature inheres in all men.15 For Calvin, the law as such was never intended to play an independent role within the broader administration of the Mosaic covenant, which was an evangelical covenant that communicated the gospel of God’s gracious promise of salvation through Christ. The contrast between the “law” and the “gospel,” therefore, is not between the Mosaic administration and the gospel. In Calvin’s view, when the apostle Paul and other NT writers oppose the “law” and the “gospel,” they are speaking of the law in the narrowest sense, wrested from its evangelical setting and misappropriated by those who falsely boast of their justification before God through obedience to the law’s demands. Though the law is holy and good, it can only demand perfect obedience and remind its recipients of the consequences of any failure to do what it requires. When the law is viewed in isolation from its evangelical setting, it can only condemn fallen sinners who are incapable of doing what it requires. Contrary to Fesko’s reading of Calvin, there is no basis for interpreting Calvin to teach that the Mosaic administration included at some level a kind of “legal” covenant that republished the prelapsarian covenant of works.
Cornelis P. Venema (Christ and Covenant Theology: Essays on Election, Republication, and the Covenants)
This broader understanding of the role of the Sabbath in the origin, the history, and the eschatology of the world provides the framework for understanding the significance of the Sabbath for the new covenant. To speak of the “abolishment” of the Sabbath under the new covenant does not involve merely the denial of the continuing significance of the Mosaic decalogue. It involves a breach of the very orders of creation, history, and consummation as revealed in Scripture. Instead of resisting the role of the Sabbath in redemption, the participant in the new covenant should rejoice in the privileges associated with God’s consummating Sabbath-ordinance.
O. Palmer Robertson (The Christ of the Covenants)
The Torah is the world’s great protest against empires and imperialism. There are many dimensions to this protest. One dimension is the protest against the attempt to justify social hierarchy and the absolute power of rulers in the name of religion. Another is the subordination of the masses to the state – epitomized by the vast building projects, first of Babel, then of Egypt, and the enslavement they entailed. A third is the brutality of nations in the course of war (the subject of Amos’ oracles against the nations). Undoubtedly, though, the most serious offence – for the prophets as well as the Mosaic books – was the use of power against the powerless: the widow, the orphan and, above all, the stranger.
Jonathan Sacks (Exodus: The Book of Redemption (Covenant & Conversation 2))
Political obligations are obligations flowing from such an agreement, and obeying the law is simply keeping one's promise. The authority of government is collective promise-keeping of all the parties to the social contract. Such a contract, by its nature, excludes religious stipulations, since any such stipulations or reservations would be inconsistent with the equality which is the foundation or condition of the contract. Moreover, the sovereignty of the individual who is the party to the social contract means that the government arising from this contract is limited government. This follows from the intrinsic nature of contract itself. A contract can only be made between equals, and can obligate no further than the intentions of the contracting parties. Here we reflect upon the radical novelty, two hundred years ago, of the idea of limited government based upon the social contract of men created equal. The ancient city understood itself altogether as a creation of divine law. We are familiar, from the Old Testament, with the ancient Mosaic polity. We read it for the story of God's covenant with Israel and the origins of the Messianic promise which Christians believe was fulfilled in Jesus. However unique the Bible is in these respects, in others it is typical. The conception of political obligation—as set forth in the Declaration of Independence—simply did not exist for ancient man.
Harry V. Jaffa