I want to share this message out of Jo.seph Prin.ce’s book Des.tined to Rei.gn:
“Pure Grace from Egypt to Sinai
When God liberated the children of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt; He did not do so because they had kept the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments had not even been given yet. The children of Israel came out of Egypt by the blood of the Lamb.
The Lord showed me something a number of years ago that ushered me into the Gospel Revolution. I was sitting in my living room, just spending time in the Word, when He spoke to me and said, “Son, study the journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to Mount Sinai for this is a picture of pure grace. Not a single Israelite died during this period although they murmured and complained.
I had never heard anyone preach that before and neither had I read it in any book So, feverishly, I turned to that portion of the Scriptures, trying to find someone who had died, so that I could prove God wrong! Have you been there before, trying to prove God wrong? Well, you can never succeed, and indeed, I could not find any Israelite who died even though the people murmured and complained.
Even though God had rescued the children of Israel from their Egyptian slave masters by performing great signs and wonders, the children of Israel failed to honour God, and murmured and complained over and over again. When the Egyptian army came thundering toward them from behind and the Red Sea was before them, the children of Israel cried out to Moses saying, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11)
That was a complaint against God, and murmuring and complaining are sins. But what was God’s response? He opened up the Red Sea and they crossed over to dry land on the other side, safe from their enemies. Even after God had brought them safely to the other side of the sea, the murmuring continued. At Marah, they complained about the bitter waters. What was God’s response? He made the bitter waters sweet (Exodus 15:23-25). In the wilderness, they cried out against Moses, when they were hungry. What was God’s response? He rained bread from heaven (Exodus 16:2-4). But still the children of Israel complained. When there was no water again, they cried out against Moses saying, “Why is it you have brought us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:3) What was God’s response? He brought water out of the flinty rock.
Study the Bible yourself. You’ll find that every time the children of Israel murmured and complained, it only brought forth fresh demonstrations of God’s favour, supply and goodness. Why? Because during that period, the blessings and provisions they received were not dependent on their obedience or goodness. They were dependent on God’s goodness and faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant, which was a covenant of grace.
The Exchange Of Covenants at Mount Sinai
Then something tragic happened right at the foot of Mount Sinai. In Exodus 19:8, your English Bible says that the people cried out to Moses, saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” In the original Hebrew text, this is actually a statement of pride. They were saying, “All that God requires and demands of us, we are well able to perform.” In other words, they were saying, “God, stop assessing or blessing us based on Your goodness. Start assessing, judging and blessing us based on our obedience.” So they effectively exchanged covenants, from the Abrahamic covenant which is based on grace, to the Sinaitic covenant which is based on the law.
All this while, God was with them and had fought for them. He opened up the Red Sea, rained manna from heaven and brought water out of the flinty rock, even though they kept murmuring and complaining. But the moment they said those prideful words, God had to change His tone. He told Moses to instruct the people not to go near the mountain, for “whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 19:12)
Why do you think God changed His demeanour here? It was because man presumed on his own strength and entered into a covenant based on his obedience. This is what we call self-righteousness. Since the people wanted to be judged based on their performance, in the very next chapter, God gave them the 10 Commandments. From then on, since they boasted that they could do all that God commanded, God had to asses them based on His laws. He would bless them if they kept His commandments, but they would be cursed if they failed to do so. What the people did not understand was that they had to obey all of the 10 Commandments perfectly because if they failed in one, they would be guilty of all (James 2:10). You see the law is a composite whole and God does not grade on a curve.
Now, let’s see what happened when the children of Israel placed themselves under the law. After they boasted that they could fulfil all that God commanded of them, the works of the flesh were immediately manifested. They broke the very first commandment – “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3) – by fashioning a golden calf and worshipping it as their god! (Exodus 32:1-8) Isn’t that sad? So be careful when you boast of keeping of defending the law because the works of the flesh will follow soon after.
From that point onwards, every time the children of Israel murmured and complained, many of them would die. Observe this: Before Sinai, none died. After Sinai, the moment the murmured they died. Before Sinai, every failure brought forth a fresh manifestation of God’s favour. But now that the Israelites were under the covenant of law, sin had to be punished. Their blessings and provisions depended on their perfect obedience, and every failure and sin would result in judgement and punishment.
That is why the law of Moses is called the ministry of death and condemnation. It is an inflexible standard that had to minister death and condemnation to the Israelites whenever they sinned. You would think that after 2000 years people would learn, but there are believers today who are still using the same refrain as the children of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai. They are bragging, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
We Are No Longer Under The Old Covenant
Can you see what the Lord was showing me? The Israelites’ journey from Egypt to Sinai was a picture of pure grace. It was not dependent on their goodness but His goodness, not on their faithfulness but His faithfulness. Before the law was given they were under grace and nobody was punished even when they failed. But immediately after the law was given, nobody was spared when they failed. The good news is that we are no longer under the old covenant of law. We have been delivered from the law through Jesus’ death on the cross. Because of Jesus Christ, we are now under the new covenant of grace, which means that today, God does not assess us based on our performance, but on His goodness and faithfulness.
Why are there believers today living as though the cross made no difference? Instead of enjoying the new covenant of grace, they are still fighting to be under the old covenant of law and the 10 commandments. I declare to you that the cross of Jesus did make a difference. If you are still trying to live under the law, trying to be justified by your obedience to the law, you are effectively negating what Jesus has already done for you on the cross!
Under the old covenant, God said, “I will by no means clear the guilty.” (Exodus 34:7) However, in the new covenant, God says, “I will remember your sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17) Can you see the contrast? It is the same God speaking, so what happened? The cross happened, my friend. The cross made the difference. Today, God does not remember your sins or hold them against you because He has already judged them in the body of His Son. Believers get confused when they do not realize that the cross has made a difference. Consider this: If we are still supposed to be under the 10 Commandments as many argue, then what did the cross of Jesus accomplish?
Grace Has Done What The Law Could Not Do
“Pastor Prince, are you insinuating that there is something wrong with the law?”
No, off course not! There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the law. As Apostle Paul said, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law…” (Romans 7:7) I am saying exactly the same thing that Paul said. It is through the law that we have the knowledge of sin, but that is all that the law can do. It exposes your sins. It cannot cover, cleanse or remove your sins. The law was designed to show forth our sins to bring us to despair and lead us to the realization that by our own efforts, we can never save ourselves. It was designed to show us that we all need a Saviour who can cleanse and remove our sins. That is the purpose of the law.
While the law is holy, just and good, it has no power to make us holy, just or good. Only Jesus’ magnificent grace and the splendour of His love can make you holy, just and good. And His blood has already made you holy, just and good! God has already done what the law could not do. How? By sending His own Son to be condemned on your behalf, so that you could be made the righteousness of God. That is your position today – you are made righteous in Christ.
With the advent of the new covenant, the Bible says that God has made the old covenant obsolete. (Hebrews 8:13) Stop fighting to hold on to something which the Bible has declared to be obsolete! The law condemns the best of us. Even David was condemned under the law and I personally esteem him to be the best of those under the old covenant. The law condemns the best of us, but grace saves the worst of us. Under law, if you break one law, you will be guilty of all. By the same token, under grace, if you do one thing right, and that is to believe on the Lord Jesus, then you will be justified from all! (Acts 13:39)”