What covenant did God make with the Jewish people?

Answer: At Mt. Sinai, God made with Israel the Law Covenant.”The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. (3) “The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. (4) “The LORD spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire, (5) while I was standing between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.” (Deut. 5:2-5 NASB)

This covenant includes statutes and ordinances such as the ten (10) commandments which Israel was to obey.  (Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 4:13; Deut. 5:7-21) These commandments defined Israel’s responsibility in worshipping God and their responsibility toward one another.  Jesus summed these commandments up in Matt. 22:37-39 (NASB) when asked by a Jewish lawyer what was the great commandment. “And He [Jesus] said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ (38) “This is the great and foremost commandment. (39) “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (40) “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40 NASB).

The Law also included a priesthood, led by Aaron, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. (Heb. 5:1-4)

God promised Israel that if they kept the Law, they would prosper. “So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. (33) You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.” (Deut. 5:32-33 NASB)

However, Israel failed to keep the Law and they were cast off from God’s favor. “‘Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 31:32 NASB) Israel failed to keep the covenant because as Jesus said quoting from Isaiah,THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. (9) ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.” (Matt. 15:8-9 NASB)

The apostle Paul tells us that the Law Covenant was a tutor that was to lead Israel to accept Christ as their Messiah. However, they failed to take it to heart, rejected Jesus as their Messiah and was in turn, rejected by God. It will take a New Covenant, with Jesus as the mediator, to take away Israel’s sins and bring them back into harmony with God. “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, … (33) ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) ‘They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'” (Jer. 31:31,33,34)

For additional information please see our related booklets and videos below.

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