Hebrew Roots/The Law/Old Covenant Law
THE LAW BEFORE MESSIAH
The Law of Yahweh God is eternal, however the depth of understanding of man to walk in His ways is progressive over time and has been unveiled by God in greater measure throughout history as He has taken His people forward in His eternal purposes for their spiritual growth into sonship.
THE LAW BEFORE SINAI
The Patriarchs had a knowledge of the eternal law of God and its application in keeping the ordinances. It is often called the Age of Conscience, as the godly line retained the knowledge which Adam had walked in and passed it on down until the flood. The godly lineage was then carried through Shem and imparted to Abraham who was brought up in, and called out of, the heathen culture of his time (Genesis 14:18-24; 18:19; 26:5).
We see that Abraham was familiar with the necessary sacrifices and ordinances and taught them to his household (Abram - Genesis 12:8; 13:4, 18; 14: 20c; 15:9-10; 21:27-32; Jacob - Genesis 28:18-22; 35:1-4, 11-15) Note that they understood the requirements for sacrifices and offerings, tithes and covenants.
Moses also had been taught the laws of God, and was well able to judge matters of the law and teach the people before the actual giving of the Law at Sinai (Exodus 18:15-16; 19-29). So when the Lord spoke to them at Sinai, it was not new to them, but His law was then established to them with authority as a covenant.
The Sabbath which they had not been able to keep under the work schedule of Egypt, was restored to them before they came to Sinai, so it was not without an understanding of what was involved when Yahweh God presented to them the terms of obedience on their part for His covenant with them, before the Law was actually formally given to them at Sinai (Exodus 16:4-5; 19:5-6).
THE LAW AT SINAI
Notice that Yahweh presented to them the terms of the covenant, "Now therefore" -- i.e. on the basis of His love and provision for them and His mighty deliverance of them from the hand of the enemy: "if you will 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 a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6)
This was the covenant -- obedience to His voice on their part with His promise of their elevation to a special place with Him, a holy people with a ministry of priesthood as a nation to the rest of the world. Notice that it was a call to obedience to His voice in particular, and not to written Laws. It was a call to a personal relationship with Him. For this purpose, they were to prepare themselves by setting themselves apart as a nation from everything of the natural, to consecrate them for the divine encounter (Exodus 19:10-14).The terms of the covenant were presented to them first for their agreement and then, when the necessary consecration was done, He spoke His Word to them. The covenant was enacted before and separately from, the giving of His spoken Law. What they had in effect, was His Word spoken into their inner being and it was so overpoweringly awesome that they could not bear it and requested Moses to be their mediator and hear the Word from Yahweh on their behalf (Exodus 20:18-19).
The scripture tells us that there were "thunderings, lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking" (Ex.21:18). Sound waves are vibrations and in the transmission of sound through the heavens we hear thunder before we see the lightning flashes. This is a parallel to what is being described here. The voice of the Lord resonated through the mountain as "voices" (thunderings) that went forth in a multiple fiery substance (lightnings) in various sound waves and passed through their midst.
The Hebrew text literally translated, means "voices" and "torches"; they were as "voices" (thunderings) that went forth as 'torches' of fire (lightnings). This is very similar to the inauguration of the new covenant where the "tongues of fire" came and sat upon each of them and each one heard in their own tongue (Acts 2: 4; 7-11). The Rabbis say that the tongues of fire danced through their midst, passing from head to head, so that each one heard the voice of the words of Yahweh without Moses needing to speak as an intermediary.
Yahweh came personally to speak to His Beloved Israel the terms of the marriage contract that she was entering into with Him. A prospective groom speaks personally and intimately with his Bride-to-be, heart to heart. So with Yahweh, He came and spoke to her personally the terms of His marriage covenant with her. He told her that she would be His prized possession and that she would be a kingdom of priests unto Him, a holy, set-apart people that He would delight in, His special purchased possession.
All Jewish weddings begin with a ceremonial washing by immersion, in preparation for the wedding to come. In this ritual, the bride immerses herself completely into a pool of water, symbolically cleansing all impurities, as did Israel before the giving of the Law (Ex.19:10). She then came up out of the water to meet her husband. The bride and groom then meet for the ceremony under a wedding canopy, which represents the cloud upon the mountain. They then enter into vows upon the terms of the wedding contract – representing the covenant agreement, which certifies the union. The ten words spoken are those He spoke to His Bride from the Cloud, when He accepted her. He, as the Groom then went about making preparations for them to dwell together in the Tabernacle of meeting - the Mishkan.
Moses went, according to the request of the people and the agreement of Yahweh, to come before Him to hear the rest of the Law with its ordinances and the promises pertaining to the covenant (Exodus 20:22-23:32). He returns and "told the people all the words of the Lord and all its judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, 'All the words which the Lord has said, we will do'" (Exodus 24:3).
He then wrote all the words of the Lord in a book, made an altar, prepared the necessary sacrifices and enacted the covenant "according to all these words" (Exodus 24:4-8).
Notice that this covenant is made upon the spoken Word, not upon the written Word, although He also gave it to them in written form, too. They had the Word enter their heart in a spiritual form and penetrate deep into their being when they were on the mount, as well as having the written form of the Word given to them. It was also His intention to give them the essence of His Word "written with the finger of God"', the ten commands, which Moses received when he went up the mountain again (Exodus 31:18).
But the scripture says, "but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." (Hebrews 4:2) In their fear they drew back and did not enter into the relationship that He provided, but chose instead to have Moses as their mediator and remain in unbelief and hardness of heart. In Moses absence, devoid of a personal relationship, they fell into idolatry and the covenant was broken.
Tablets of natural stone, which Moses had to cut, replaced the broken covenant, symbolised by the broken tablets, whereas the original tablets were said to be of the pavement upon which He stood (Exodus 24:9-11). In all, the covenant, the priesthood and the application of the Law, which replaced the original, was an earthly, natural form of the previous covenantal relationship and promises (Exodus 32: 34:1).
They failed to enter into the spiritual inheritance He had for them of being a kingdom of priests to the nations. This was His perfect will for them to enter at this time, however, His provision for their failure was to have the Levitical priesthood compensate as an intermediary function until the fullness of time for Messiah would come. Then, through the perfect sacrifice in the offering of Himself, the stony heart could be replaced with the Law written on the tablets of their hearts by the Finger of God (Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 8:10).
His laws, which had to be written on tablets of stone and could find no resting place in its pure essence on the stony heart of man, found embodiment in the Son of Man as the Word made flesh (John 1:14). By His Spirit, man can now be born of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God in the new covenant (1 Peter 1:23, 25).