Lesson 5 | Sabbath, 3 August 2019
“In the most definite manner, God through Moses set before them His purpose and made plain the terms of their prosperity. ‘Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God,’ He said; ‘the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth…. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations…. It shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers: and He will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee,… Thou shalt be blessed above all people.’ Deuteronomy 7:6-14.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 222.
1. After promising Abraham that his descendants would be as the stars of heaven, what did the Lord tell him? Who would be part of the covenant forever?
Genesis 17:6-8, 19, 21 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God…. 19And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him…. 21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
“… The Lord manifested Himself again to Abraham and said unto him, ‘I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant.’ Again the Lord repeated by His angel His promise to give Sarah a son, and that she should be a mother of many nations. Abraham did not yet understand the promise of God. His mind immediately rested upon Ishmael, as though through him would come the many nations promised, and he exclaimed, in his affection for his son, ‘O that Ishmael might live before Thee!’
“Again the promise is more definitely repeated to Abraham: ‘Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.’ Genesis 17:18, 19.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 78.
Promises and covenant for future generations
2. When Israel became a great multitude, what promises and covenant did the Lord repeat to comfort His people and prepare them for the exodus from Egypt?
Exodus 6:3-8 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. 5And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. 6Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.
“When God called Moses,… He knew that the people were in blindness and ignorance, that their minds had become beclouded in faith, and that they were almost destitute of a knowledge of God. They had become degraded by associating with a nation of idolaters, and had corrupted their ways by practicing idolatry. Yet there were many who were righteous and steadfast among this downtrodden people. The Lord directed Moses to give them a message from Himself. He said: ‘Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.’ Exodus 6:6, 7.” –Review and Herald, December 17, 1895.
3. After the Lord set the Israelites free and they were on their way to the promised land, what promises did the Lord have Moses repeat to the congregation? What other promises did He add?
Exodus 19:5, 6 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: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
“God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.
“Their obedience to the laws of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 221, 222.
Gift of freedom and the renewed covenant
4. Before giving the law on Mount Sinai, what did the Lord give to His people? Still today, how significant is it that the Lord makes us free from spiritual slavery before entrusting us with His law?
Exodus 19:4; 20:2; 29:46 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself…. 20:2I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…. 29:46And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.
“‘With great power, and with a mighty hand,’ God brought His chosen people out of the land of Egypt. Exodus 32:11. ‘He sent Moses His servant; and Aaron whom He had chosen. They showed His signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.’ ‘He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up: so He led them through the depths.’ Psalm 105:26, 27; 106:9. He rescued them from their servile state, that He might bring them to a good land, a land which in His providence He had prepared for them as a refuge from their enemies. He would bring them to Himself and encircle them in His everlasting arms; and in return for His goodness and mercy they were to exalt His name and make it glorious in the earth.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 16.
5. Besides the promises, what was included in the covenant that the Lord proposed to His people? Instead of a simple signature, what was necessary for the ratification of the covenant? What does the sprinkling of blood signify?
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
Nehemiah 9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments.
Exodus 24:7, 8 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. 8And 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.
“All through the pages of sacred history, where the dealings of God with His chosen people are recorded, there are burning traces of the great I AM. Never has He given to the sons of men more open manifestations of His power and glory than when He alone was acknowledged as Israel’s ruler, and gave the law to His people. Here was a scepter swayed by no human hand; and the stately goings forth of Israel’s invisible King were unspeakably grand and awful.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 365.
God’s desire for a holy people
6. What was and is the Lord’s primary desire for His people?
Exodus 22:31, first part And ye shall be holy men unto me:…
Leviticus 11:44, first part, 45 For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy…. 45For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
“God requires moral perfection in all. Those who have been given light and opportunities should, as God’s stewards, aim for perfection, and never, never lower the standard of righteousness to accommodate inherited and cultivated tendencies to wrong. Christ took upon Him our human nature, and lived our life, to show us that we may be like Him by partaking of the divine nature. We may be holy, as Christ was holy in human nature. Why then are there so many disagreeable characters in the world? It is because they do not suspect that their disagreeable ways and rough, impolite speech is the result of an unholy heart….” –This Day with God, p. 32.
7. Were freedom, the covenant with God, His promises, His government, and the possession of the promised land all granted because of the people’s works or merit? Are justification and salvation granted because of man’s actions and goodness?
Deuteronomy 9:4-6, 13 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. 5Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people…. 13Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.
“The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less we shall feel like exalting ourselves. Those whom heaven recognizes as holy ones are the last to parade their own goodness.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 160.
“Come with humble hearts, not thinking that you must do some good work to merit the favor of God, or that you must make yourself better before you can come to Christ. You are powerless to do good, and cannot better your condition. Apart from Christ we have no merit, no righteousness. Our sinfulness, our weakness, our human imperfection make it impossible that we should appear before God unless we are clothed in Christ’s spotless righteousness. We are to be found in Him not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness which is in Christ.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 333.
For additional study
“From a race of slaves the Israelites had been exalted above all peoples to be the peculiar treasure of the King of kings. God had separated them from the world, that He might commit to them a sacred trust. He had made them the depositaries of His law, and He purposed, through them, to preserve among men the knowledge of Himself. Thus the light of heaven was to shine out to a world enshrouded in darkness, and a voice was to be heard appealing to all peoples to turn from their idolatry to serve the living God. If the Israelites would be true to their trust, they would become a power in the world. God would be their defense, and He would exalt them above all other nations. His light and truth would be revealed through them, and they would stand forth under His wise and holy rule as an example of the superiority of His worship over every form of idolatry.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 314.