Pastor John Piper comments on Exodus 19-20, our Bible reading passage for today, where God makes a covenant with Israel and gives the 10 commandments. Piper asks, “what are the divine promises and human conditions of this covenant? What does God commit himself to do? And what does he require of his covenant partner?” Here is an except from the sermon, “God’s Covenant Through Moses”–
The foundation of the covenant is grace. Therefore, when Exodus 19:5 says that Israel must “obey God’s voice and keep God’s covenant,” it does not mean they must earn their blessings by working for God. It means they must keep themselves in an attitude to receive God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness.
And what attitude is that? One answer is given in Exodus 20:5–6 in the midst of the ten commandments: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love (KJV: mercy) to thousands to those who love me and keep my commandments.” Israel upholds her side of the covenant by loving God and by not putting any other value where God belongs in her heart. And out of this love to God inevitably flows an obedience to his word, because you always go after what you value. So this obedience is not earning God’s grace. It is the evidence of love for God’s grace. God is not loved when we put ourselves in the position of an employee and him in the position of an employer who pays us earnings.
When God says that love for him is the condition Israel must meet in order to share the covenant blessings, it’s like saying that the condition you must meet in order to benefit from your vacation is to enjoy the sunsets. It is unthinkable that the command to love God could be a command to earn blessings from him. On the contrary, when you think it through, the command to love a God who is gracious and forgiving (Exodus 34:6–7) must include a command to trust him. The only way to receive forgiveness is by trusting the forgiver. And the only way to benefit from gracious promises is to trust the promiser. The fundamental condition that Israel had to meet in order to enjoy God’s blessing was trust.
To read or listen to the rest of this sermon, “God’s Covenant Through Moses,” click here: