Exodus 19:3-6 and Conditional Covenant

mount-sinai-God-cloud-mosesGod’s love may be unconditional, but his covenant is conditional.  This is a hard concept.  On the one hand there are many people who want to believe that everything with God is unconditional–in other words because God is Love, then we can do anything we want and it does not matter because God will forgive us, being loving and gracious as he is.  On the other hand there are people who think of God in only conditional terms–in other words because God is so holy and different from us we continually are in danger of being smote from existence if we fail to live up to some standard.  The reality is both–unconditional love and a conditional covenant:

The Lord called to him [Moses] from the mountain, “This is what you should say to Jacob’s household and declare to the Israelites:  You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me.  So now, if you faithfully obey me and stay true to my covenant, you will be my most precious possession out of all the peoples, since the whole earth belongs to me.  You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation. These are the words you should say to the Israelites.”

Why did God deliver the Israelites?  Because he promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would bless them.  Why did he make that promise to them?  Because he wanted to do it.  It is that simple.  God reached out to a person in grace in order to have a relationship with him, and promised to be with his offspring and bless them.  God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt not because they followed his Law, but because he had grace and compassion for them.  He loved them.

When they encamped around Mt. Sinai and God gave them the covenant, he stipulated a condition–obey the covenant and I will make you a blessing to the whole world.  If they did not obey the covenant, they would not be a blessing to the whole world.  Unconditional love got them out of Egypt and into a conditional covenant where blessings would follow obedience to God.

In the Christian life it is no different.  God unconditionally loves everyone, and when we respond to that love we enter into a covenant with him.  We have commandments we are to obey, commandments that revolve around loving God with all of our being and loving those around us as well.  If we are unfaithful to the covenant, God is still Love and will forgive us if we repent.  Then we will have another opportunity to fulfill our part of the covenant of salvation with God.  If, however, we assume that God’s love will forgive all wrongs we do and never repent of them, and repentance is not only feeling sorry for what we did but trying (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to turn our lives around so we do not sin in that manner again, then we will be just as the Israelites were throughout their history.  They repeatedly sinned and never truly repented.  That did not work out too well for them.

Remember, God loves us unconditionally, but salvation is a conditional covenant.

One thought on “Exodus 19:3-6 and Conditional Covenant

  1. Pingback: 1 Kings 11:37-39 and Covenant Promises and Prophecy | Free Methodist Preacher

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