THE PROMISES AND THE MOSAIC COVENANT
A. Abraham kept faith and walked in God’s ways all the days of his life. Because of this, the promises of the Abrahamic covenant are as sure to come to pass as the rising of the sun in the east.
4 I will make your offspring (seed) as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, 5 because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.” (HCSBGen. 26:4-5)
9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations (ESVDeut. 7:9)
B. When Abraham’s seed comes out of Egypt, at Siani and then in Moab (Deut. 29:1), through Moses God commanded Israel to follow Abraham’s example of faith and obedience in order that they, too, might inherit the promises on a permanent and prolonged basis (Deut. 4:1, 4:40, 5:16, 5:29, 5:33, 6:2-3, 6:15, 6:18, 6:24-25, 7:6-12, 8:1, 8:19-20, 11:8-9, 11:13-17, 11:21, 11:22-23, 11:26-28, 12:28, 13:17-18, 15:4-5, 16:20, 17:19-20, 19:8-9, 25:15, 26:16-19, 27:15-26, 28:13-15, 28:58-59, 30:6, 30:15-20).
40 “So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long (Lit. “prolong your days”) on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (NASBDeut. 4:40)
2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. (NASBDeut. 6:2)
8 “You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it; 9 so that you may prolong your days on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants (Lit. seed), a land flowing with milk and honey. (NASBDeut. 11:8-9)
9“The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. (NASBDeut. 28:9)
1“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him. 3For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord. (ESVIs. 51:1-3)
C. Furthermore, it is the king who obeys and keeps the Law, whose kingdom is permitted to endure.
18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (ESVDeut. 17:18-20)
D. King David, the prophets, Jesus, and many if not most first century Jews understood “prolonged life” or “length of days” ultimately in terms of eternal life, i.e. prolonged life in the land of the living through bodily resurrection. Prolonged life ultimately only has real significance if it goes on forever! Likewise, the promise of a prolonged kingdom only has real significance that kingdom endures forever.
O Lord, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give! 2You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips. 3You welcomed him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head. 4He asked you for life, and you gave it to him— length of days, for ever and ever. 5Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. 6Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. (NIVPs. 21:1-6)
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (NIVPs. 27:13)
35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— and I will not lie to David— 36that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; 37it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.” (NIVPs. 89:35-37)
19But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. (NIVIs. 26:19)
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” (ESVMt. 19:16-17)
E. When the nation “married” the God of their fathers in the covenant at Siani, in their “vows” they agreed that they would abide by the Law of their Husband.
7 After Moses came back, He summoned the elders of the people, and put before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 Then all the people responded together, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken.” So Moses brought the people’s words back to the Lord. (HCSBEx. 19:7-8)
3 Moses came and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. Then all the people responded with a single voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has commanded.” (HCSBEx. 24:3)
F. Moses tells Israel that if the nation failed to faithfully observe the Law and fulfill her vows, it would experience God’s curse. This included failure to faithfully keep the sacrificial stipulations (through neglect, or defiled offerings, or insincere repentance, etc.), which were the Law’s provision for mercy and forgiveness should the Law’s other stipulations be violated.
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. (ESVDeut. 11:26-28)
26 ‘Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (NASBDeut. 27:26)
G. Most of the curses are spelled out in Leviticus 26 and Deut. 28. They are extremely intense, and are a statement about how much God loves righteousness and justice, and how jealous He is for a faithful Bride.
H. Key question: Who qualifies for prolonged life in the land in God’s sight? At what point did God consider a Jew to have “kept” the Law? The Law included a broad range of stipulations that touched every area of life: land, farming, boundaries, government, diet, family, the appointed feasts, etc. It also set forth stipulations for mercy and forgiveness should the Law’s non-sacrificial stipulations be violated. That the sacrificial system itself is a part of the Law—and in fact is the antecedent aspect of the Law, because apart from it the Law’s other works are meaningless—by nature precludes an oversimplification of “keeping the Law” as “earning salvation by works” in a “dispensation of Law” (classical dispensationalism). For example, King David, the man after God’s own heart, did some massively sinful things (e.g. Bathsheba, Uriah, the census). However, here is God’s final statement over his life:
5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night…14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (ESV1Ki. 3:5, 14)
2 the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon…4 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules (ESV1 Ki. 9:2-4)
2 And he (Josiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left (cf. Deut. 5:32) (ESV2Ki. 22:2)
5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (ESV1Ki. 15:4-5)
I. The reason David could receive this testimony despite his great sins, is that repentance and faith in the sacrifice were at the very heart of the Law itself and were antecedent to, though inextricably joined with, obedience to the just ordinances of the Law. That said, even though God accepted David’s repentance, it occurred in context to sacrifices that by their very nature could not take truly take away sins sufficient for inheritance of the promises (Heb. 10:4). Therefore, even though he died in hope, he still died. The realization of his hope was tied to the work of the Messiah in the first and second comings.
Where, then, does this leave self-righteous boastfulness? It has been rendered a non-option. Through what sort of Law? One defined first in terms of its works? No, on the contrary, through a Law antecedently characterized by faith (in sacrificial atonement)! For we hold that a man is acquitted by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of the Jews only? (AuthorRom.3:27-29)
J. Though Israel has always had a righteous remnant, the majority of the nation has not followed David’s example. Because of that, when God sends judgment to the nation as a whole in fulfillment of the Deuteronomic curses, the righteous, even though they are often preserved or differentiated in some sense (e.g. Daniel, Jeremiah; Dan. 1, Jer. 39:11-14), also have to deal with the consequences of Israel’s national rebellion. In that sense, they share the curse of the nation, even if they don’t bear it eternally.