In a magnificent and intimidating display of majestic power, God gave the Law to Moses. The people had prepared for this day. After days of preparation and consecration, they put on clean clothes and stood at the base of Mt. Sinai. The mountain quaked, thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and smoke rose from a cloud at the peak as God spoke. With His words, He initially gave the 10 Commandments instructing people about what it meant to love God (commandments 1-4) and what it looked like to love others (commandments 5-10).
But these were just the most prominent 10 of more than 600 commandments that comprise the Law. Together, these laws are often categorized as ceremonial, civil, and moral in their nature. The ceremonial laws indicated how Israel was to worship their God. Meanwhile, civil laws dictated principles for daily living and interaction with others. Moral laws, then, establish personal standards of right and wrong.
As given by God, the Mosaic Covenant comprised of these commandments was a conditional covenant. It promised blessing for adherence. (“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ex. 20:12). And it warned of consequences for violation. (“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Ex. 20:7) Out of fear and with good intentions, it is no surprise that the Israelites “signed” the covenant, vowing to do all that God had prescribed.
But they were agreeing to the impossible. Every person has sinned and violated the will of God (Rom. 3:23). Even Peter describes the keeping of the law as a “yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10) No one can do all that God outlined in the Mosaic Covenant.
There was, however, another purpose to the words of the Law. Paul describes it for us in Galatians 3:23, 24:
“But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”
The Mosaic Covenant points people towards their need for faith in Jesus Christ!