The Mosaic Covenant is so called because it was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. This covenant is a conditional covenant given to the nation Israel. Conditional means the recipient of the covenant was required to fulfill their part of the covenant. It is like ‘I promise to do this, IF you will do this.’
Israel was the recipient of the conditional covenant. They chose to accept all of the conditions and agreed to fulfill them.
The conditional Mosaic Covenant did not replace or disannul the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant.
The covenant blessings were conditional on Israel’s obedience to the law as given by God to Moses. Israel’s obedience to the law would bring manifold blessings from God in that the nation would prosper and thrive. Their disobedience to the law would bring discipline and judgment from God.
We find the Mosaic Covenant first presented in the book of Exodus.
Exodus 19:1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
Exodus 19:2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.
Exodus 19:3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Exodus 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Exodus 19:7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
We need to pay particular attention to the fact that God drew up the conditions of the covenant, then the words of the covenant were read in the hearing of the nation Israel. We see in the following verses that the children of Israel said All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. It was after that agreement by the children of Israel that Moses sealed and confirmed the conditional covenant with the sprinkling of blood on the people.
Remember in the Abrahamic Covenant, God was the only one Who ratified the covenant. Abraham was asleep and could not agree to fulfill any part of that covenant! In this way God is the one totally responsible (and capable) of fulfilling this unconditional covenant with Abraham and his seed.
Exodus 24:1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
Exodus 24:2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
Exodus 24:3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.
Exodus 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Exodus 24:5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.
In the previous verse we see the cutting or dividing of the animal sacrifices. The blood was used to seal and ratify the covenant. Notice it was first placed on the altar before the conditions were read to the children of Israel.
Exodus 24:6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
Exodus 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
Exodus 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
Exodus 24:9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
Exodus 24:11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
Exodus 24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
Exodus 24:13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
Exodus 24:14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
Exodus 24:15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exodus 24:17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Exodus 24:18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and got him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
We normally think of the Law as the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses and the children of Israel. We must also understand that there were other laws given to them by God. They dealt with relationships with each other, relationships with other nations, the sacrificial system which looked forward to God’s sacrifice of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, the Priesthood, the offerings, the feasts, the Sabbath, etc.
Below is just one example of the detail contained in these laws. A complete reading of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is very helpful in understanding the complete requirements under the conditional covenant.
Exodus 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
Exodus 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou didst break.
Exodus 34:2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.
Exodus 34:3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
Exodus 34:4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.
Exodus 34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Exodus 34:8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.
Exodus 34:9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
Exodus 34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
Exodus 34:11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
Exodus 34:12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
Exodus 34:13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
Exodus 34:15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
Exodus 34:16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
Exodus 34:17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
Exodus 34:18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
Exodus 34:19 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
Exodus 34:20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
Exodus 34:21 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
Exodus 34:22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
Exodus 34:23 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.
Exodus 34:24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.
Exodus 34:25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
Exodus 34:26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
Exodus 34:27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Exodus 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
Exodus 34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
Exodus 34:31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.
Exodus 34:32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
Exodus 34:33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.
Exodus 34:34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spoke unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
Exodus 34:35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Next we have just one selected passage in Leviticus containing warnings and admonitions from God about the severity of breaking the Mosaic Covenant by the children of Israel.
Leviticus 2:13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.
Leviticus 24:8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
Leviticus 26:9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
Leviticus 26:15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
Leviticus 26:25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
Leviticus 26:42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
Leviticus 26:43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
Leviticus 26:44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.
Please note in verses 42 and 44 that God in His mercy and grace still regards the unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
In the book of Deuteronomy we have what is called the blessings and curses given by God to the children of Israel. These are contained in chapters 28 and 29. God spoke these words through Moses as the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land.
We have selected parts of these passages to give you a sampling of both the blessings and curses. It would be good to review them in context as you read the Bible. First we will look at the blessings.
Deuteronomy 28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
Deuteronomy 28:3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
Deuteronomy 28:4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
Deuteronomy 28:5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Deuteronomy 28:6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
Now, we look at some of the curses resulting from disobeying the covenant.
Deuteronomy 28:14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
Deuteronomy 28:16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
Deuteronomy 28:17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Deuteronomy 28:18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
Deuteronomy 28:19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
The children of Israel could not keep all of the law, and we suffer from the same problem. God is holy and righteous, and His law is holy. God knew our frailty and sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to the earth. Jesus lived a perfect, holy life, and went willingly to the cross to die a cruel death. He paid the sin debt owed to God for us. He laid His life down Himself, died and rose again. Jesus said that He had the power to do just what He did!
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
John 10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
John 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
It is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved. It has always been that way, even for the children of Israel. Those who died before the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah Jesus Christ were saved by faith looking forward to the Messiah. All of the Old Testament systems from the time God clothed Adam in animal skins after the fall to the giving of the law looked forward to Jesus the Christ. It is all about Jesus Christ and His atonement for sins, past, present and future.
Let’s look at another passage of scripture given to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. In it we will see God’s omniscience, His grace and His mercy. He knew the failures Israel would experience in trying to keep the law. We will also see His promise of a future restoration for the nation, and a new covenant anticipated that involved the circumcision of their hearts.
Deuteronomy 30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
Deuteronomy 30:2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
Deuteronomy 30:3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
Deuteronomy 30:4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outermost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
Deuteronomy 30:5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Deuteronomy 30:7 And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
Deuteronomy 30:8 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
Deuteronomy 30:9 And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
Deuteronomy 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Deuteronomy 30:11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Deuteronomy 30:12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deuteronomy 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deuteronomy 30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Deuteronomy 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
Deuteronomy 30:17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
Deuteronomy 30:18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Deuteronomy 30:20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
In this passage we see the Lord’s references to the circumcision of the heart. God wants us to love, honor and worship Him from our hearts. We as fallen human beings do not pursue God. He loves us, pursues us and woos us to Himself. It is by His grace through His gift of faith that we are saved.
The children of Israel could not keep the law, but those who believed God and looked forward to the redemption He provided were saved.
There is a new covenant that God has promised the nation Israel in the book of Jeremiah. This new covenant which was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the law and prophets.
As a nation Israel has not realized the blessings of the new covenant, but they will when Jesus Christ returns to reign on earth.
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jeremiah 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Jeremiah 31:35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
Jeremiah 31:36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.
Jeremiah 31:37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.