Wednesday: Hagar and Mount Sinai
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What type of covenant relationship did God want to establish with His people at Sinai? What similarities does it share with God’s promise to Abraham? Exod. 6:2–819:3–6Deut. 32:10–12. 1

God desired to share the same covenant relationship with the children of Israel at Sinai that He shared with Abraham. In fact, similarities exist between God’s words to Abraham inGenesis 12:1–3 and His words to Moses in Exodus 19. In both cases, God emphasizes what He will do for His people. He does not ask the Israelites to promise to do anything to earn His blessings; instead, they are to obey as a response to those blessings. The Hebrew word translated “to obey” in Exodus 19:5 literally means “to hear.” God’s words do not imply righteousness by works. On the contrary, He wanted Israel to have the same faith that characterized Abraham’s response to His promises (at least most of the time!).

If the covenant relationship God offered to Israel on Sinai is similar to the one given to Abraham, why does Paul identify Mount Sinai with the negative experience of Hagar? Exod. 19:7–25Heb. 8:6, 7



The covenant at Sinai was intended to point out the sinfulness of humanity and the remedy of God’s abundant grace, which was typified in the sanctuary services. The problem with the Sinai covenant was not on God’s part but rather with the faulty promises of the people (Heb. 8:6). Instead of responding to God’s promises in humility and faith, the Israelites responded with self-confidence. “ ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do’ ” (Exod. 19:8). After living as slaves in Egypt for more than four hundred years, they had no true concept of God’s majesty nor the extent of their own sinfulness. In the same way that Abraham and Sarah tried to help God fulfill His promises, the Israelites sought to turn God’s covenant of grace into a covenant of works. Hagar symbolizes Sinai in that both reveal human attempts at salvation by works.

Paul is not claiming that the law given at Sinai was evil or abolished. He is concerned with the Galatians’ legalistic misapprehension of the law. “Instead of serving to convict them of the absolute impossibility of pleasing God by law-keeping, the law fostered in them a deeply entrenched determination to depend on personal resources in order to please God. Thus the law did not serve the purposes of grace in leading the Judaizers to Christ. Instead, it closed them off from Christ.”—O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants(Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1980), p. 181.

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Wednesday: Hagar and Mount Sinai — 2 Comments

  1. The two covenants pertain to two cities.
    Jerusalem which represents the old covenant.
    It will never be free.
    It will be replaced by the City of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven. Revelation 3:12; 21:1-5.
    It is the city for which Abraham sought -- the "city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:10.

    Many today look to the present Jerusalem as the focal point of earth's restoration.

    For such "to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted." 2 Corinthians 3:14. They can't see that the Covenant to Abraham's desendants are to those who have accepted the promised "SEED" which is Christ, no matter if they be Jew or Gentile. It's not naturally born desendants, but those born again in Christ, that are heirs according to the promise.

    They are in reality looking to Mount Sinai and the old covenant for salvation. Complete with a restoration of the temple and all it's rituals!

    But it is not to be found there. "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; . . . but ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, . . . and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Hebrews 12:18-24, KJV.

    Whoever looks to the present Jerusalem for blessings is looking to the old covenant to Mount Sinai, to slavery. But whoever worships with his face toward the New Jerusalem, seeing Christ in the heavenly temple mediating for them, are looking to the new covenant, to Mount Zion, and to freedom; for "Jerusalem above is free."
    That was true in Paul's day and is equally relevant today as the Christian world looks to old Jerusalem for the fulfilment of Christ's kingdom!

    From what is it free? It offers us freedom from sin; and since it is our "mother," it begets us anew -- born again, to newness of life in Christ.
    Free from the law? Yes, certainly, for the law has no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    But scripture plainly tells us to let no one deceive you, by telling you that you may now trample underfoot and disregard that law which God Himself proclaimed in such awful majesty from Sinai.

    Coming to Mount Zion, to Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, we find forgiveness and through His grace become free from the dominion of sin which is the transgression of the law.

    The basis of God's throne in "Zion" is His law, and no matter how one defines it -- that law includes those ten commandments. From the throne proceed the same lightnings and thunderings and voices (Revelation 4:5; 8:5; 11:19) as from Sinai, because the selfsame law is there. But remember it is also "the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16), the precious blood of the Lamb on the mercy seat enables us to come to it boldly, assured that from God we shall obtain mercy.

    God's grace is there to help in time of need, and in the hour of temptation to sin, for out of the midst of the throne, from the slain Lamb (Revelation 5:6), flows the river of water of life bringing to us from the heart of Christ "the law of the Spirit of life." Romans 8:2.

    The covenant of grace brings life to all who by faith take hold on it and look to Christ with their thoughts turned to heavenly things.

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    • Thats a great post sister and I believe that! Just one thing, you mentioned that we should not disregard the law as it was from God . Truly it was, but for who was it given? 1 Tim.1:9 tells us exactly who its for, and its not made for the righteous man . It is for the sinners! We who have accepted Christ Jesus into our hearts, are the righteous. We, that is, that walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. Galatians 5:24,25 "and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lust. If we live in the Spirit ,,," Further Romans 8:14 "For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Truly as you mentioned Romans 8:1, there is no condemnation to such as these (us who believe), because Christ has already taken the condemnation upon Himself, glory to His precious name!
      As to the original piece were they are talking about the two covenants, they are as far apart as the heaven is from the earth. As one is of the flesh and the other is of the spirit. And as long as one desires to be under the law, he will be also under the condemnation associated with it. I like the verses in Gal. 4:29-31 which tells us that the two can never be together, they can never marry, as they are different. They both serve a purpose, true, but the question is still the same today as it was when Paul asked it Gal.4:21 "Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?" One must hear the law and understand the law to see that it 'gives birth to bondage' Gal. 4:24. So, the choice is ours today, to chose which it will be, but know this that the two cannot live together. Gal. 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." They were loosed from something and now need to go on in Christ believing in His finished work. We must stop our work and believe that Jesus has done the work for us. Thats what Abraham finally did when God told him Gen.17:1 "...I am the Almighty God.." This alone shows for all time, that God was the provider (El Shaddai). Here is the first time God called Himself this Hebrew name that means so much to us today. He (El Shaddai) would provide Gal. 4:4 "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His only son, made of a woman, made under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons!" Now remember that Jesus was that seed God had promised Abraham, (not seeds of many, but one). And He fulfilled all the law, all the righteousness that God required, so that we could now have that righteousness for ourselves, vicariously! That's what being 'born under the law' means for us!
      In Christ we are free, but I duly share the warning of Paul in Gal. 5:13 "For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Amen

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