God’s Covenant with Israel

God made a Contract with Israel – and Israel Broke it

A “contract” is an agreement between two parties which obliges each party to do or not to do a certain thing. It is an agreement with promises of delivery, but also with stipulations and penalty clauses. In the time of Moses God made a contract with the people or nation of Israel, and (initially) they agreed to abide by the contract. The Bible refers to it as a “covenant”.

God made a contract with Israel at Mount Sinai via His servant Moses. They were to follow the statutes of holy living, various laws and observe mandated Holy Feasts at their appointed time. Their mission was to teach the world by their example and be God’s witness and salvation to the nations (Isa 43.10 and 49.3,6). Moses was instructed to spell out God’s contract to the Israelites:

In Exodus 19: 5-8 we read:

God's covenant

Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

This is confirmed in Deuteronomy 7:12:

If you listen to these commands and obey them faithfully, then the Lord your God will continue to keep his covenant with you and will show you his constant love, as he promised your ancestors.

In biblical terminology this contract between God and Israel is often referred to as the Mosaic Covenant. The “if-then” statement in these verses reveals that it was conditional. Israel had to be obedient to God’s requirements in order to receive His blessings.

Israel broke God’s Covenant – So the Penalties ‘kicked-in’

As history shows, the people of Israel strayed from their promise on Mount Sinai. They failed to keep to the ways God had stipulated in the contract. As punishment, her people were sent into captivity by the ferocious Babylonians. And when Jesus came He wept for His people for He knew they were going to suffer and be dispersed amongst the nations. Let’s read some of the fine print in the contract. In Deuteronomy 28:1-16, we read:

Blessings for Obedience
1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him.
10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you.
11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Curses for Disobedience
15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.

The remaining verses of chapter 28 list the many penalties that Israel will suffer if they break the contract, notably:

64 Then the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other …

The Contract Renewed

As noted, Israel failed in her mission (broke the contract) and from New Testament times the Jews have been scattered throughout the nations (the “diaspora”). The contract was then offered to the Gentiles, namely, the church. Today the church has the opportunity to receive the blessings of the contract (God’s blessings). All she has to do is keep her side of the contract by being God’s witness to the nations. She has to preach the good news (the Gospel). That said, in these end times, a remnant of Israel is once more fulfilling her mission, together with the contracted Gentiles.

Today we see the return of the Jews back to their God-given homeland (Canaan). We see the establishment of the State of Israel. We see a nation turning to the statutes God laid down under Moses. We see the majority of the nation now following God’s Holy Feasts and keeping the Jewish Sabbath. As a result, the nation of Israel is once more being blessed in the country (abundant agriculture), blessed in the city (technological innovation) and blessed in the sea (discovery of large natural resources). We also see God’s amazing protection (as in the 6-day war), and God building a numerous people as in the birth of numerous sons and daughters (Israel’s Jewish population grew by an amazing 7400% between 1915 and 2013).