In scripture, the term “covenant” is a vitally important one. It refers to the ways in which God relates to his people; his promises, commands, gifts, and grace towards them.
However, the idea of covenant has elicited quite a few differing positions among theologians over the years. For example, how many covenants has God made with his people throughout history? Opinions range from as little as one to as many as 12! Some covenants seem explicit, such as the ones God made with Abraham, Moses, David, and with the Church through Jesus. But, are these all separate covenants, or are they multiple versions of the same one? Famously, some theologians believe that there are two “types” of covenants; covenants of “works” and covenants of “grace,” and that all of the specific covenants fit into one of these two types. If this is the case, which covenants are which type? Or, are these distinctions dubious to begin with?
Furthermore, what are our responsibilities to the covenant(s) God has made with us, if any? What happens if we break the covenant(s)?
In the book of Exodus, this leads to another important question. In Exodus 19-24, God makes a covenant with his people through Moses (often referred to as the “Mosaic Covenant”). God delivers “the law” (or, Torah), which consists of a series of more than 600 laws, and God states that he expects his people to follow the laws. Some of these laws are basic, such as, “Do not commit murder.” But others appear strange, such as, “Do not wear a garment made of both linen and wool.” So, what are we to make of these laws? How do they reflect our involvement in the covenant, and what, if anything, do they have to do with what the New Testament calls “The law of Christ?”
We are currently in a teaching series on the book of Exodus. With many of our teaching series’, we offer a seminar after a gathering to dig deeper into the text we are exploring in order to ask questions that might not be a good fit for the sermons. For this seminar, rather than simply ask interpretive questions (though we’ll still do that), I thought it would be interesting to see how some of the elements of Exodus effect the way we integrate the book into our “full Bible” theology. With a book like Exodus, it can be a difficult task, because some of it clearly is meant to relate only to the Jews of ancient Israel. But much of it is clearly applicable to our understanding of the way, as the Church, currently relate to God.
Author: Danny Daley
On Sunday, 27th May, after the service (6.15pm – 7.45pm), Danny will be holding a seminar where we’ll ask questions about covenants, strange laws, and other issues raised by a reading of Exodus. Please come with thoughts and questions. Reading Exodus all the way through would be helpful, but in no way required. Refreshments will be provided.