The Conditions of the Covenant
In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. (Ex 19:1-8)
God heard the cries of the people of Israel in Egypt and remembered the promise He had made to Abraham. And He sent Moses to them to lead them out into the desert. But Moses was not confident that he could do it and concerned that the people may not follow him when he tells them that God had sent him. Thus God made a promise to him saying, “I will give you a sign”. And He said in Exodus 3:12, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
So God was saying, “They are currently living in Egypt, but will come out of there to serve Me on this mountain, that is, Mount Sinai. This will be a sign to you that I have sent you.” And it seems quite inconceivable doesn’t it? It was hard to imagine that the people that are in Egypt are going to come to the place where Moses met the angel of the Lord and together with him worship God. But God was telling him that this would happen and that itself will be a sign to him. It will be a sign for what? “A sign that I am with you and that I have sent you.”
So that meant there’s more to it. From that time, the fact that they came out of Egypt and worship God on Mount Sinai will be a sign to everything that will take place in the future and that they will surely be accomplished. Hence there was a lot of anticipation. And the fact that they had even come that far was already so amazing. After all that ordeal, they brushed the blood on the doors and came out of Egypt by God’s many miracles. Then they crossed the Red Sea, wandered in the desert and finally arrived at Mount Sinai. They finally came to the place where Moses first met God.
So God is He who truly keeps His word. And Moses also became certain of this: “He truly is incredible. He is the great and almighty One. And just as He said in the beginning, He certainly is the self-existing one from eternity past.” In this way, he also got to know more about this god. “He is truly amazing! He is great!” And in verse 4, God spoke proudly, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” He was showing who He is. “You see? I am this God!” And then He said, “for all the earth is Mine”. “All the worlds belong to Me”. By this, He was teaching them about who He is. He first told them that He is the self-existing One from eternity past and now He tells them that all the earth is His. After He showed them that He is the God who has such power, who loves them, and who remembers and keeps the promise He made to their forefathers, He spoke to them. He didn’t speak with empty words but after they clearly got to witness who He is, He spoke to Moses saying,
“If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Thus Moses gathered the elders and spoke these words to them. “Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’” So Moses then told Jehovah what the people had said to him. Moses was in the middle, delivering God’s word to the people and the people’s answer to God. He was a mediator.
What is it that this god is requesting of them right now? God definitely does not act unilaterally. He doesn’t do things unilaterally. The demons on the other hand make unilateral decisions. If you ask a demon, “When did you come into this person?” “I came in when she was praying”. Why does the demon come in when this person is praying? The demon didn’t even ask to come in. Or another demon says it came in when a person was angry. But do demons ever ask, “Can I come in? Can I live with you?” No they don’t. They just come in whenever they want. And when we tell them to get out because we don’t want them, they refuse to get out. They don’t listen. They look down on you and snub you. Also, they want to kill you. That’s what these spirits are. The corrupt spirits.
But God not only created man, He is able to save mankind, keep His promise to them and perform mighty powers that at the flick of His hand He can destroy all things or give life to them. And such God is asking man, “What would you like to do? I just showed you what kind of god I am, so what do you think? What do you want to do? I want to be with you. I want you to be My people. All the earth is Mine. But I have chosen you out of all the nations on earth so that you can become a kingdom of priests. What would you like to do? If you want the same, there is a condition. The condition is that you listen to My words and keep My covenant. Then we can be together. Shall we proceed or not?” He is asking them like this.
Thus when Moses went and asked the people, what did the people say? They all with one accord answered, “Yes we will.” They agreed. And Moses reported that to God. But it wasn’t finished yet. God says to them to make an official agreement, not just in words. And later, the part of them establishing an agreement follows. So they established a blood covenant. Yet before doing that, God asked their opinion several times. Do you want to go ahead or not? If you want, let’s do it. God checked with them again and again. Are you really going to keep this agreement? Are you sure? Pinkie promise? No, pinkie promise isn’t enough. Let’s sign the papers. Let’s sign the papers.
In other words, God is giving mankind many chances like this. He gives them the opportunity to check and reaffirm their willingness. Do you want to do it? Have you decided? If so, then from now on, you must listen to my words. If you don’t want to listen, don’t make an agreement in the first place. That is exactly what marriage is about. Marriage is a contract. It is an agreement to keep each other’s promises. But it’s hard to keep those promises. There are many challenges. Sometimes you feel like you want to terminate the whole agreement but you still keep it. Not because it is easy to keep but because you promised to fulfill the agreement, which is why you keep your promise. That is a contract. Similarly, man has made an agreement with God, and sometimes that can bring benefit to man’s flesh but it can also burden him so that he doesn’t want to keep the agreement. But since he has agreed to it, he must keep his word. If I fulfill the agreement, God will also. It is not a unilateral contract.
However, our hearts are ruled by very filthy thoughts. We have fatalistic thoughts, believing that my fate and future is already predestined, that God has already determined everything about me. Such thoughts have been implanted in us since we were very little, actually before we were even born, since the times of all our ancestors over hundreds and thousands of years. And because we learned the language that they have developed, we are brainwashed while living and being brought up in this culture since we were young, even if they may not actually say to us, “Your fate is already predestined”. My fate has been determined already. This thought has been passed down to us without even realizing for thousands of years, before we came to believe in Jesus.
Therefore, even after coming to believe in Jesus, we are still ruled by this idea. Don’t people say things like, “What do commentators predict would happen? As South Korea versus Japan in the upcoming soccer match, which team do they forecast to win?” Even Christians use those words, don’t they? They are saying they can predict or foresee the future, similar to fortunetelling.
Fortune-telling is what psychics and mediums do. So already, by using words like, “What do you predict?” they are implying that it is already determined. They are saying, “What do you foresee or forecast?” as though telling a fortune. In this way, we are already indoctrinated with such filthy language. And even as we follow God and live our faith life, we tend to think with such ideas in our minds.
What is God’s plan for me? A lot of people say that. “God, what is your plan for me? What is the purpose you have for me?” What you mean by a plan for you? You are supposed to obey like I said. Nothing has been predestined. People think, “Has God abandoned me?” No, He hasn’t abandoned you. If you feel like you are abandoned, do the right thing. What did Jesus say? Who did He say is the one loved by God? Stop doubting, “Does God really love me?” Who did He say is the one that God loves? He said, “Whoever keeps my words and keeps them, I will love him.” Hence there is no reason to even think, “Does God love me?” Just have His words. Take His words, and then obey them. Then you are keeping God’s words. There is no need to worry about whether or not God loves you. Take His words and obey them. Thus those who can change the future are those who believe in God. They are the ones who changed their destiny.
Because man lacks even the most fundamental ability, He told us to be baptised to bury the man that is so stained and then start all over again. He gave us another chance. So a person that was bound by fatalism, who was destined to go to hell buried that self of his, and becomes born again as a new man to take hold of the word that lets you rise up beyond the angels, beyond being God’s children, beyond receiving glory, and being a servant of God and even further up to become the heir. The heir. Jesus.
He tells us to reach the full measure of Jesus. Don’t stop half way. People that think, “What is God’s purpose for me? Where is my place to be?” are already corrupt in their will. That is the characteristic of demons. Demons are hopeless. They have no hope because their destiny is already determined.
And if Christians still have such fatalistic ideas, it means their will is in a corrupt state. If I say this, people might say, “What do I do? Am I corrupted? Is my will corrupted?” If that’s the case, change it. Don’t think like that anymore. And from now on, take the word and obey. That’s what you need to do.
People are still going to have their fortunes told, whether or not they will become the president, because they think their fate is determined. However, we who believe in Jesus, pray. Instead of spending time on getting psychic readings, we pray. We change things around through prayer. Like that woman to whom Jesus said, “It is not right to give the bread to you. It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs,” she wanted to change that. And the Lord was pleased with her faith that even the story of that poor woman was written in the Bible. Even though He said, “He who has My words and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him,” people still don’t believe that and think that their fate is already predestined. But it can be changed. Until when are they going to have a such faithless mindset?
That is faithlessness. That is unbelief toward God. Such people do not believe in God’s faithfulness and His promises. They are making God a liar. How can a person who makes God out to be a liar have anything to do with God? Such a person doesn’t believe what God says.
“If you do these things then I’ll do such and such for you”. “Oh don’t be ridiculous.” “No I will give these things to you if you work here.” “Well how do I know that you will do what you said?”
Like this, if a person is unwilling to believe what I say, I can’t do anything with him. How can I have any relationship with a person that doesn’t believe me? He is unwilling to trust me.
There are two types of people in this world that are very hard to cope with. One is people who don’t trust your words; the other is people that make up lies. Don’t have anything to do with such people. You won’t be able to beat them. How can you win against someone that lies? They back-stab you, say one thing here and say something different there. There is no point in arguing with someone like that. You can’t win against them. That is why you need to avoid those sorts of people in this world – the liars. There’s nothing more to say about them. They are liars.
Also, there’s no need to talk any further with someone that doesn’t believe what you say. What’s the point of talking when they’re not going to believe you? Such a person is determined not to love you. They are determined to destroy you. So what can you do about them? Hence if a person doesn’t believe in God, he is determined to destroy God. So if Jesus was on the earth right now, such a person would’ve killed Jesus. And how can they have any fellowship with God? But God said, “If you listen to Me and keep My words, and set your heart to believe in My covenant, then I will make you Mine. There are many nations in this world but I will choose you to be Mine”.
And then He said, “I will make a kingdom of priests”. A kingdom of priests means “the source of blessing”. It means, “I will make you a mediator. So that through you many people will be blessed”. They will play the role of a mediator. This nation will be a mediator between God and all the other nations. And because of them, God will accept the other nations and they also will come to know God through them.
Next, He said, “You will be a holy nation”. If they become a nation, then God will be their king. He is promising them that He will give His life, and shed His blood to protect them. How great is that? God chooses them out of the many nations, they get to possess God’s secret and God will protect them to the end. Does that sound great or not? Would you want that or not? If you want that, then keep My words. And believe My promises. And the people agreed. This powerful God who led them out of Egypt made these promises and wanted to build a covenant with them, and the people raised their hands to it in agreement, and therefore established a covenant.
But have those people become holy nations and a kingdom of priests? God had done all this so that they would later become a kingdom of priests but what happened? They regard themselves as chosen people and despise all other people as accursed, and refuse to even talk to associate with other nations. They completely forgot about their responsibility and duty to share the blessing they received. So how can God possibly make them a kingdom of priests? God could see that it was getting to nothing. So He sent Jesus to fulfill this work forever. And through Jesus, He is now speaking to us once again. “Do you really want God’s word, not the Law, engraved into your hearts, not on stone? And do you want to become a people of God not only on this earth but also in heaven? Do you want to be God’s people forever? If you do, then I need nothing else but for you to be baptized. Believe and be baptized.” And when we got baptized, He says, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. And after that, what did He say we have become?
Let’s read 1 Peter 2:9 all together. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Since we have come to know Jesus Christ, we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His own people. In other words, what God had said to Moses has finally been fulfilled upon us. We have become the chosen nation, a holy priesthood. But not just any priests – a royal priesthood that possess the authority of a king. Also, we became a people that belong to God so that we can be with God. Why? That we can proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That is, He has called us to be a blessing to all others.
The people of Israel were supposed to fulfill what God had planned but couldn’t. But God sent Jesus Christ so that we have become a holy nation, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and a holy people of God. Therefore we must discard all of our filthy thoughts of old. Since the promise of God has been fulfilled upon us and He has even given us the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we then proclaim the goodness of our good and marvelous God? We shouldn’t be the only ones blessed. We must make others blessed too.
What would happen if, after all this, we doubt His goodness or whether He would keep His promise or not? If you are employed and told, “Work here and we’ll pay you a month later”, then you have to work looking forward to a month later. Would you be worried or doubting every day, “Are they really going to pay me? Will they really pay me?” Your employer would say, “Why don’t you trust me? You’ll find out a month later. When did I ever lie to you? If I promised to pay you, I will.” So you trust their words and work. Even if doubts arise at times, you keep working because you will get paid in a month’s time. You will be paid as you were told.
In the same way, God is He who has already fulfilled everything He promised to us. We are now a royal priesthood. We must proclaim His praises, His goodness. This is not something forced upon us; we chose this. We were baptized in Jesus’ name and at that moment, we determined to obey the Lord, and be one with the Lord. He is truly faithful and will surely keep His word. So let us pray that we can fulfill our duties as a holy and royal priesthood.
God already knew that we can’t keep our promise during those thousands of years. That is why He sent Jesus. He knew, “Ah, they can’t do it”. That’s why He sent Jesus so that by grace we may be with God. Thus do not have any more doubts about His love for you. Let us pray that, despite any of our iniquities and flaws, we can acknowledge His goodness and thus have the boldness to continuously receive His grace always.
God our Father, You knew early on that we are unable to keep the promise that the Lord wants which is why you didn’t expect that of us. Instead, You sent Jesus so that only by repentance, we can receive God’s grace. Thank you God. Help us to understand the heart of our Lord Jesus who has done all this so that we always long for your grace. Even if we are full of sin and flaws, help us to always rely on the Lord who has given us another chance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center