Hagar and Mount Sinai (Gal. 4:21-31)
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 10 Wednesday
First paragraph of today’s lesson;
What type of covenant relationship did God want to establish with His people at Sinai? What similarities does it share with God’s promise to Abraham? Exodus 6:2 – 8, 19:3 – 6; Deuteronomy 32:10 – 12
The next paragraph states, “God desired to share the same covenant relationship with the children of Israel at Sinai that He shared with Abraham.”
If that is so, why did God say to Israel at Sinai,
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5,6.
With Abraham, God promised to do everything, to make a great nation, to bless all the peoples of the earth through Him, but here God tells Moses to tell the people, “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then…” Is this same covenant He made with Abraham?
Why did God say this to them? How did they respond to this proposition by God?
The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” Exodus 19:8
What does this answer reveal? The lack of insight, awareness, understanding the people had about their own condition of sinfulness. They actually thought they could do it. It would be like someone coming to you and saying, if you jump out a window and fly around the building flapping your arms, then I will make a great nation out of you. And you respond by saying, “I will do that” and then jump out the window.
Why did God do this? Did God know their hearts? Did He know how they would respond? Then why did He do this? Because they needed to be brought to understand their own inability to heal themselves, change themselves, fix themselves and thus rely wholeheartedly on God. This was designed to very quickly bring them to realize they were helpless over sin in their lives and their lives were out of control.
Read first two paragraphs from Friday’s lesson and I will include the missing paragraph from between the two quoted there:
But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai? In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him. He brought them down to the Red Sea–where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible–that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God and with confidence in His power to help them. He had bound them to Himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage.
But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God’s law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught.
God brought them to Sinai; He manifested His glory; He gave them His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7… Yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant. Patriarchs and Prophets page 371
Do you see how God stoops to meet us where we are, to lead us through experiences designed to open our minds to our own condition, so that we will cooperate with Him for healing and transformation?
How long was the Old Covenant at Sinai in force? Just a few weeks and it was broken and void and from that point onward all the Old Testament was to be an experience of the New Covenant!
What happened? Why didn’t they experience the New Covenant?
What about today? How many look back on Sinai and fail to see its purpose and instead see a harsh, severe, punishing God who puts rules on His people and punishes disobedience?
The last paragraph in Wednesday states, “The covenant at Sinai was intended to point out the sinfulness of humanity and the remedy of God’s abundant grace, which were typified in the sanctuary service.”
Love the use of “remedy” by the lesson, absolutely right! But, did the people understand the meaning of the sanctuary service as a remedy for sin, or did they see it instead as a system of legal payment and appeasement?
Do we struggle with the same problem?
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