Thursday, March 7, 2019

I Will Be Their God, and They Will Be My People


The Holy Spirit
 

"I Will Be Their God, and They Will Be My People"


A Marriage Covenant


The term "I will be their God, and they will be my people" is generally recognized as "the covenant formula". This formula is derived from ancient legal terminology, specifically regarding the marriage ceremony. (The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable - Eze 11:19-20) In marriage "the two become one flesh". Throughout scripture, God's declaration of being Israel's God and Israel being His people is His statement of intent to have an intimate "one flesh" relationship with them.
Gen 2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Paul picks up on this as a type of God and the church in the New Testament. This shows the eventual goal of a "one flesh" relationship not only with Israel, but with the Gentiles who become a part of His body.
Eph 5:31-32 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (32) This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Col 1:25-27 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-- (26) the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people. (27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Joh 17:20-23 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (21) that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (22) I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one-- (23) I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

1Jn 4:12-13 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (13) This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.

These passages show that God's intent through the ages was and is to live within Jew and Gentile alike as one (Col 1:25-27).

God's plan was for Israel, to be their God, and they His people. The out working of this intent on God's part began at Mt. Sinai with the Israelites.
Exo 6:7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
 Through this marriage, Israel would be a light to the nations to bring them into relationship with God as well.

Exo 19:5-6 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, (6) you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

Isa 42:6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,

Isa 49:6 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

Act 26:22-23 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen-- (23) that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles."

Israel's Rejection


In Gen 17:7-8 God says the the purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant was "to be your God and the God of your descendants after you".
Gen 17:7-8 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (8) The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
The presentation of the Marriage Covenant was on Mt. Sinai about two to three months after the Israelites had been freed from Egyptian slavery.
Exo 6:6-8 "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. (7) I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. (8) And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'"
God's intent was to make them kingdom of priests. Each individual Israelite would be a priest to those around them bringing unbelievers to the knowledge of God, aka bring a light to the Gentiles.
Exo 19:5-6 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, (6) you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
Israel failed in this mission, and the reason they failed is their rejection of Him who would have given them the power to be priests. They resisted the Holy Spirit, and turned to idolatry instead.

Moses records the actual response of the Israelites:
Exo 20:18-19 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance (19) and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."

Deu 5:22-27 These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. (23) When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me. (24) And you said, "The LORD our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them. (25) But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer. (26) For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? (27) Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey."

Deu 5:4-5 The LORD spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (5) (At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:
Jeremiah looks back at the Exodus from Egypt and sheds light on what God's intent was at that time, "I will be their God, and they will be my people", and the Israelite response.
Jer 7:22-24 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, (23) but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. (24) But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.
Phillip also looked back at this event and reflected on their resistance of the Holy Spirit when he said:
Act 7:51 "You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
The term "I will be their God, and they will be my people" has great meaning. Paul explains the application of the term, and what it means for us today. He clearly associates "I will be their God and they will be my people" with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
2Co 6:16 "... For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
God is the same yesterday as today. It is clear reading through the history of the Israelites that they had rejected God's offer to be their God, and they to be His people and forfeited the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Throughout scripture, there is a unmistakable and direct connection between "I will be your God, and you will be my people" and the indwelling Spirit. Notice the connection in these passages speaking of the New Covenant:
Eze 11:19-20 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (20) Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Eze 36:26-28 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (28) Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Eze 37:26-27 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. (27) My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Zec 8:8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."

Heb 8:10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

The Consequence of Israel's Rejection


The original intent of the Covenant at Sinai then cannot be anything less than God's desire to put the Spirit of God inside the individual Israelite by which they would become a nation of priests and mediators between God and man. They failed in this mission, the source of which was their rejection at Mt. Sinai to come near to God. Through disobedience to go up the mountain to meet Him, and by asking for a mediator between themselves and God, they fell short of God's plan to place his Holy Spirit in them. (Exo 20:18-19, Deu 5:22-27, ref above).

God did not reject the Israelites because of this however, and agreed to satisfy their request.
Deu 5:28-33 The LORD heard you when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me, "I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. (29) Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! (30) "Go, tell them to return to their tents. (31) But you stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess." (32) So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. (33) Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
It was the Israelites request for a mediator that brought about the occasion of God giving to Moses the commands, decrees, and laws.
Deu 5:31  But you stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess."
The Tabernacle was one of the provisions that resulted from Israel's resistance of the Holy Spirit (Ex 26:1, Ex 36:1). The construction of a Tabernacle was for the purpose of providing a dwelling place for God, where He could be among His people, but not in them (Ex 40:33-35). The instruction to construct a tabernacle is itself strong evidence showing the consequence of Israel's resistance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would not indwell the Israelites, but rather, He would be among them in the tabernacle. Today, as would have been the case then, there is no need for a Tabernacle or Temple, because individuals are the temple of God.
2Co 6:16 "... For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

The Provision of Mosaic Law

In the absence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Israel was given a guardian, or tutor to provide instruction that the Holy Spirit would have otherwise provided. Paul explains why the law was given:
Gal 3:19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.
This verse is linked inextricably to the rejection of the Holy Spirit at Mt. Sinai. It was at Mt. Sinai that the law was given, and it was at Mt. Sinai that the law was entrusted to the mediator. This verse refers to Deu 5:31, in which God tells Moses (the mediator) to remain so He can give Him the law.  The Israelites failed to be a party to God's statement, "I will be their God, and they will be my people". They stayed back in fear, received the law, and requested a mediator, and God lived among them in the Tabernacle but not in them.

The role of the Mosaic Law was teacher, the one who convicts and guide for the Israelites, and that is the very role of the Holy Spirit, whom they were lacking. The instruction the Holy Spirit provides is teaching in all things, conviction of sin and guidance into all truth.
Joh 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Joh 16:8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

Joh 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
The written law came about because of the Israelites rejection of the one who would teach them, convict them, and guide them, and became their tutor until the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh.

Further support for the temporal nature of the Mosaic Law is given in several passages.  Mosaic Law was given "until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come". Jesus, buy His death, burial and resurrection cleared the way for the Holy Spirit to indwell us.
Joh 16:7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
It is because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us that both Jews and Gentiles are now realizing the fulfillment of "I will be their God, and they will be my people".
2Co 6:16 "... For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Gal 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
The original intent of the Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled in us, both Israel and Gentiles. Peter clearly brings this out. Remembering the chronology with respect to giving the law, God tells the Israelites that THEY would be the kingdom of priests, something that they never achieved.
Exo 19:5-6 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, (6) you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
Compare with Peter's reference to this passage where he shows that this intent has been fulfilled in those who believe.
1Pe 2:7-9 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," (8) and, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for. (9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
The Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled. The Holy Spirit has come to indwell His people, and the Covenant is complete. We now live in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the letter of the law.
2Co 3:2-6 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. (3) You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (4) Such confidence we have through Christ before God. (5) Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (6) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Conclusion

The Mosaic Covenant and the Holy Spirit are inseparable from each other. The Mosaic Covenant came into existence to fulfill the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant. Those terms include Israel becoming a great nation, being blessed, and being a blessing to the nations.

Israel's ability to become such a people was clearly linked to it's relationship with the Holy Spirit, as realized in the marriage covenant language of two becoming one flesh through God being their God, and they being His people.

Unfortunately, Israel resisted the Holy Spirit, who would have been their internal spiritual guide, teacher, and the one who convicts of sin, but they resisted the Holy Spirit and by association, the Holy Spirit's conviction, guidance and teaching. Not to leave the Israelites without guidance, God agreed with their request to stay at a distance and have a mediator. He provided them with the Law of Moses to act as a guide, teacher and the one who convicts of sin until such a time as the Holy Spirit was once again made available to fulfill that role on the day of Pentecost.