GRACE BEFORE THE ATONEMENTEdit
Yahweh God extending grace to mankind did not begin with the New Covenant. Just as He has always executed judgment upon sin so has He always been Merciful and Gracious in all His dealings with mankind.
The breaking of His law has always incurred a penalty, the retribution for which was outlined in the covenant given through Moses. If His people were obedient, they would inherit the blessings, if they were disobedient they would reap the curses of the broken Law. These are outlined in Deuteronomy chapters 27 and 28.
It was only by the penalty of the Law being abrogated in the Messiah, that the curses of the broken law ceased to have effect for those who are in Him. But, it is only to those who live in the Spirit of Christ that there is no "law" ("against such there is no law"), because Yeshua fulfilled the Law's requirements. (Galatians 5:22-25).
Just as it was His grace that was extended to Adam in providing redemption for him rather than allowing the penalty of the law to have it's full effect in death, so it was also grace that was extended to everyone who has chosen to worship God down to Abraham, who is cited as the father of those who come to faith through grace.
Abraham became a figure-head for a natural seed of physical descendants and also a spiritual seed of those, who like him, made the transition from paganism and enmity with God, to finding grace and acceptance with Him in a relationship of faithful obedience and service.
THE LAW AT SINAIEdit
The focal point of Sinai was the giving of the Law of Yahweh God. Through that, the nation had a divinely endorsed standard of His expectations of them, for living in relationship with Him. He had mightily displayed His power in the plagues on Egypt which effectively brought them into faith in Him as the Almighty, the one true God, but all the demonstrations of His power and all the miracles were for a greater purpose than just to deliver them from slavery and bondage so that they could have liberty to worship Him (Exodus 5:1).
Yahweh stated His purpose in Exodus 6:7, "I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land which I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham."
Apart from the fulfillment of the covenant promise to Abraham and the deliverance of them physically (Genesis 15:18-20), His purpose was to take them as His own and bring them into personal relationship with Himself. As He says, "And they shall know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 29:46)
That is why when they arrive at Sinai, He presents them with a covenant based upon a spiritual union, saying, "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure unto Me above all people; for the earth is Mine. And you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:4-6)
This was the covenant to which they agreed, answering, "All that Yahweh has spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8)
The Law had not yet been given when they entered into this covenant agreement. It was given after three days preparation when they entered into spiritual union with Him in the manifestation of His Presence to them.
One of the first things He said was, "I am Yahweh your God which brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, you shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:1)
He was to be their God and they would be His people. The rest of the commandments followed on the basis that they were His people, and therefore would obey Him as part of their covenant relationship. It was because they were His people that they would be obligated to obey, not that obeying would give them acceptance with Him. It was a marriage union wherein a 'wife' submits to her 'husband' and obeys his commands (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Later when calling Israel to account, He confirms that to Him it was a marriage relationship (Jeremiah 31:31-32)
Yahweh wanted to dwell with His Bride, and so He gave the specifications for a mutual dwelling place for them saying, "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 25:19)
The only way that He, as a holy God, could dwell with His people, was if they also would walk in holiness; and hence the giving of the law so that they would be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). For the relationship to be sustainable, identification of and separation from sin, was necessary. This was the purpose the law served. Firstly, to establish the righteous standard of God for them to walk in holiness as His people, and as a result, to identify sin; "for sin is the transgression of the Law" (1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20). Whenever the nation sinned therefore, Yahweh withdrew Himself from them - such an example was in Exodus 33:3, 7-11.
The giving of the law then, was the by-product of entering into covenant relationship with Yahweh God, not the means of entrance into it. Their salvation and redemption was by faith in the Passover lamb with the blood on their doorposts and all that it symbolized of their separation from the gods of Egypt and their allegiance to Him. Their redemption was through the extension of His grace which became available to them through faith. They were a redeemed people already when they came to Sinai, and as a redeemed people, they were called to walk in His ways and obey His commandments, just as Yeshua calls us to do in the new covenant (John 15:9-10)
Obedience is the reciprocal response in a love relationship. Their continued obedience enabled the fulfillment of the promises for their divine destiny which were made to Abraham, their disobedience thwarted it.
WALKING IN HIS COMMANDMENTSEdit
The law was not impossible for man to keep, even under the old covenant, according to His Word: "For this commandment which I command you today, it is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you shouldest say, Who shall ascend into heaven for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? But the word is very near you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it." (Deuteronomy 30: 11-14)
It is this scripture which Paul quotes in the new covenant as the basis of a faith relationship with God through Christ. (Romans 10:5-8). In his quotation he differentiates between the basis of life imparted in the old covenant to that of the new. To do that, he uses the scripture in Leviticus 18: 5 - "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am Yahweh" (Romans 10:5); as a comparison to the implanted Word in the new covenant through which we are partakers of the divine nature, saying, "But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise" .... "that if you will confess with your mouth the Yeshua as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:6, 9-10)
The point being, that the Word was spoken into their hearts at Sinai, but they did not have the new nature. Whereas in the new covenant the life and nature of Christ is imparted to us through faith when we believe. In the old, they received an infilling of His life in proportion to how they lived according to His Word. We now have His Word implanted within as well as His Spirit, to empower us to live according to His holy Law.
"See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil; In that I command you today to love Yahweh your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply: and Yahweh your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess." (Deuteronomy 30:15)
Living in and by His Word always brings life, whereas living contrary to it brings death. Prior to Yeshua's sacrifice, the saints of old were dependent upon the Word for the sustenance of their spiritual lives. Their disobedience to it brought them under the curse which was the penalty for the broken law.
His Word is a spiritual regenerative power unto eternal life, transforming that which is natural and that which is mortal into that which is spiritual and immortal (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:18, 22-23; 1 Peter 2:23).