Mountains and Covenants

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In Deuteronomy chapter 27, Moses instructs Israel on what to do after entering the land.  They are to write the law on stones covered in plaster and build an altar.  Both of these are placed on Mount Ebal.  Representatives from half the tribes stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce covenant curses on Israel.  Representatives from the other half of the tribes stand on Mount Gerizim to pronounce covenant blessings on the people. Prior to this, Levi pronounces commands from the law and declares curses on those who break the law.  The people respond with, “Amen!”

Chapter 28 begins with all the blessings promised to those who keep the covenant.  Following this, the scripture enumerates the curses that will come on those who do not keep the covenant.

We can view all these curses as terrifying warnings, and indeed they are to the old nature that rejects the Lord.  Viewed another way, we find a graphic list of curses Jesus took for us, curses the Father knew Jesus would suffer even as He commanded them to be pronounced from Mount Ebal generations before.

Jesus died as the cursed covenant breaker.  But God raised Him from the dead.  In His resurrection, He is seen as the blessed covenant keeper.  While He suffered the curses we deserved, He also confers blessing we do not deserve.  Paul expresses this in Ephesians when he says, “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph. 1:3).  

Jesus was raised and then ascended to the Father.  Foreshadowing this, the blessings in Deuteronomy begin with the promise, “Now if you faithfully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all His commands I am giving you today, the LORD your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth” (Deut. 28:1).  Jesus was the faithful covenant keeper and ascended far above all the nations of the earth.  When we join to Him, we share in His ascension and all the covenant blessings He garnered.

Jesus became the satisfaction of the curses and blessings of the old covenant.  In this way, He became the summation of the covenant.  Everything between God and man that was previously transacted through laws, sacrifices, priests, temples—the entire old covenant structure—was now transacted through Jesus.  This is why He could make a new covenant.  The old covenant being completely resident and fulfilled in Him, He became the totality of God and man’s covenant relationship.  Jesus is now our covenant, the only covenant between God and man.

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