At Sinai, Moses went up the mountain to meet God (Exodus 19:3). There God gave him a proposition to lay before the millions of Israelites. This proposition, or agreement, was what we now call the "Old Covenant"—the covenant agreement for making of these people God's own nation on earth.
The proposition provided that God was to be their sole King and Ruler. Their government was to be a theocracy. God was to be the Law Maker, not a congress, or parliament. God would appoint men to execute His orders. Moses returned and "called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him" (verse 7).
The people unanimously accepted God's proposition. They were so intent on receiving what God promised in this contract—"you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people" (verse 5), that is, the greatest, most prosperous, most powerful nation on earth—that they did not consider too seriously the condition: "If you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant."
What came from the voice of God for them to obey? A great law that already existed, just as the laws of gravity, inertia, physics, and chemistry already existed. Yet, this law was a spiritual law! God's voice revealed that living, inexorable law in specific words, as a definite code of conduct.
Before God began creating, He wanted humanity to be happy—to have peace, and to enjoy life in security and vigorous, abundant living. To make such a happy state possible, God set in motion the spiritual laws that are an extension of His very nature, encapsulating what "love" is (I John 5:2-3). These spiritual laws form the way to physical, mental, and spiritual well being—real life! In them, He codified the way to avoid sorrow, suffering, anguish, insecurity, boredom, emptiness, frustration, violence, and death.
Notice these comparisons between God and His spiritual law:
God's law is a gift to mankind, yet humanity thanklessly rejects it. As good and glorious as this law is, human nature is hostile to it (Romans 8:7)! Selfishly, it wants to have everything God's way of life brings—but it rebelliously resents traveling the road God demands it take to obtain His blessings.
Now, notice how the Ten Commandments begin in Exodus 20:1-2: "And God spoke all these words, saying: 'I am the Lord your God. . . .'" It is vital to realize that the Israelites did not receive the commandments from Moses, as most people seem to believe today. Moses himself heard them for the very first time, in this form, along with the rest of the people.
Next, notice Deuteronomy 5:4-22, recorded nearly forty years later. Moses, reminding the Israelites of their history, says: "The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire . . ."—then follow the words of the Ten Commandments (verses 6-21). It is a common and prevalent idea that Moses "gave the law," but clearly, the Ten Commandments did not come from Moses but from God!
Then, after reiterating the words of the Ten Commandments, Moses continues:
Observe two additional facts from this verse: ". . . and He added no more." It is a complete and spiritual law. God added nothing further to that law. Any other laws—including the Old Covenant—are different, separate laws, apart from that spiritual law!
Second, "He wrote them on two tablets of stone." Not only did God speak the words, He Himself wrote them down—made them permanent and enduring—in stone. In essence, this is a double witness of their origin—God Himself! Moses was to place these tablets inside the Ark of the Covenant, symbolizing God's rulership and judgment based on His Ten Commandments.
So is this law only for the Jews? Does it apply to New Covenant Christians? Notice Acts 7:38-39—five chapters after the beginning of the New Testament church:
Speaking to the Jews, Stephen, a converted Christian, says that God gave these "living oracles . . . to us," Christian and Jew! They are still in effect today as a complete, spiritual law, and we—Christians and/or Jews—do not have the authority to choose which ones we want to obey!
This event on Mount Sinai was the basis for making the Old Covenant, but what is the basis of the New Covenant? "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Hebrews 8:10 quoting Jeremiah 31:33).
From these proofs, two points are clear:
Next: The Sabbath Command