The Scriptorium

God's Covenant

It is one covenant, from Adam to Jesus. Deuteronomy 5.1-5

The Ten Commandments: Deuteronomy 5 (1)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 119.145-148
I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O LORD!
I will keep Your statutes.
I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.

Psalm 119.145-148

(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
With my whole heart, I cry to You, O Lord!
Lord, answer me!  Your statutes I will keep.
I call to You; save me!  I love Your Word.
I cry to You, arising from my sleep.
My hope is in Your holy Word, O Lord;
I meditate upon Your promise sweet.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 5.1-5

Preparation
1. What was Israel to do with the statutes and judgments Moses spoke to them?

2. What did God make with His people?

Meditation
Having reminded the people of God’s uniqueness and love, and of their history from Egypt to Moab, Moses turned to the second giving of the Law, His “statutes and judgments” (v. 1).

Three injunctions are issued to Israel: They must hear the Law of God, and not only at that moment, when Moses was giving it to them; but continually, individually and corporately, they must attend to the hearing of the Law, whether by reading or listening.

Second, they must learn the Law of God. Reading or hearing is not enough. They must apply their minds to understand, their hearts to embrace, and their consciences to value the Law as the guiding light of their souls.

Finally, they must “be careful to observe” the statutes and judgments of God (v. 1). The Law – and all the Word of God – is meant to give direction and power for our lives, that we might know the blessings and promises of God and demonstrate His wisdom to the world.

Moses invoked the memory of God’s covenant. That covenant did not have its beginnings in Exodus 20. Rather, the covenant given to Israel through Moses was but a further and more specific development of God’s covenant. God began to give His covenant to Adam and Eve, then to Noah and Abraham, and at this point to Israel through Moses. It’s the same covenant, which may be summarized by the familiar motto that recurs throughout Scripture: “I will be your God, and you will be My people.” In the giving of the Law, the administration of God’s covenant was “updated” – like your computer operating system – to take into account the changing needs and situation of God’s people. But the original mandate remained: “be fruitful and multiply”, just as God had given it to Adam and Eve and restated it to Noah. And the first specific refinement of that – that Israel would be blessed to be a blessing to the world – which was given through Abraham, is here brought forward, enlarged, and made more specific by the giving of statutes and judgments.

Moses mediated God’s covenant to Israel at Horeb (vv. 2-5). In that respect, he is a foreshadowing and type of Jesus, Who mediates God’s new covenant on Calvary. The new covenant is itself but a further development of God’s one covenant, which He enters with all who believe in Him.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“I stood between the LORD and you at that time…for you were afraid of the fire…” (Deut. 5.5). Moses did mediate between God and the people. And they were thankful that he did. Job longed and cried out for a mediator: “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both” (Job. 9.32, 33). But we, like the children of Israel, have a Mediator Who stands between God and us, and how grateful we are for Him! “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all…” (1 Tim. 2.5, 6).

Reflection

1. In what sense was Moses a “mediator” between God and the people of Israel? What did he mediate to them? How did he have authority to mediate this to the people?

2. How do you see that the covenant God made with Israel is a further development of God’s already-existing covenant?

3. How does Jesus serve as the “one Mediator between God and man”? What does He mediate to us?

In these words he commends the Law; because it must be accounted a peculiar blessing, and a very high honor to be taken into covenant by God. Wherefore, that they may anxiously prepare themselves to embrace the Law, he says that what was above all things to be desired had been freely offered to them, viz., that they should be united in covenant with God..
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 5.2

Nothing is impossible with You, O Lord! Help me today as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 119.12-17.
Pray that the Lord will impress the lessons of Israel’s obedience and disobedience on you, and ask Him for guidance today in realizing more of His precious and very great promises.

Psalm 119.12-17
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be blessed, O God our Savior, teach us Your holy Word!
Our lips proclaim with favor the statutes of the Lord.
How great our joy, dear Jesus,  to follow in Your ways.
What more than this could please us, or brighten all our days?

We contemplate Your precepts and cherish all Your ways,
delighting in Your statutes, rememb’ring all our days.
With wondrous bounty bless us, Your humble servants, Lord,
that we may live with Jesus and keep His holy Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you understand where the covenant with Moses fits into the unfolding and developing story of God’s covenant throughout Scripture. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore