Bible Study Guides – God’s Covenant With His People

April 12, 2009 – April 18, 2009

Key Text

“And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, [even] ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Deuteronomy 4:13.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 370–373; “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 931–933.


“Under the new covenant, the conditions by which eternal life may be gained are the same as under the old—perfect obedience.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 931.

1 When did Israel first enter into a covenant relationship with God? Exodus 19:1, 8. What did the people promise to do after additional instruction had been given? Exodus 24:3, 7.

Note: “God’s favor toward Israel had always been conditional on their obedience. At the foot of Sinai they had entered into covenant relationship with Him as His ‘peculiar treasure … above all people.’ Solemnly they had promised to follow in the path of obedience. ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do,’ they had said. Exodus 19:5, 8. And when, a few days afterward, God’s law was spoken from Sinai, and additional instruction in the form of statutes and judgments was communicated through Moses, the Israelites with one voice had again promised, ‘All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.’ At the ratification of the covenant, the people had once more united in declaring, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ Exodus 24:3, 7. God had chosen Israel as His people, and they had chosen Him as their King.” Prophets and Kings, 293.

2 At the close of the wilderness wandering, how was the condition of the covenant repeated? Deuteronomy 4:5, 6, 9.

Note: “Near the close of the wilderness wandering the conditions of the covenant had been repeated. At Baalpeor, on the very borders of the Promised Land, where many fell a prey to subtle temptation, those who remained faithful renewed their vows of allegiance. Through Moses they were warned against the temptations that would assail them in the future; and they were earnestly exhorted to remain separate from the surrounding nations and to worship God alone.” Prophets and Kings, 293, 294.

3 What specific counsel did the Lord give to His people through Moses? Deuteronomy 4:15, 16, 19, 23.

Note: “Plain and decided were the warnings that had been given Israel against the idolatrous customs prevailing among the neighboring nations. …

“Moses traced the evils that would result from a departure from the statutes of Jehovah. Calling heaven and earth to witness, he declared that if, after having dwelt long in the Land of Promise, the people should introduce corrupt forms of worship and bow down to graven images and should refuse to return to the worship of the true God, the anger of the Lord would be aroused, and they would be carried away captive and scattered among the heathen. ‘Ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it,’ he warned them; ‘ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.’ [Deuteronomy 4:26.]” Prophets and Kings, 294, 295.

4 What would be the ultimate result of Israel’s refusal to honor their covenant of obedience to God? Deuteronomy 4:26–28.

Note: “The apostasy of Israel had developed gradually. From generation to generation, Satan had made repeated attempts to cause the chosen nation to forget ‘the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments’ that they had promised to keep forever. Deuteronomy 6:1. He knew that if he could only lead Israel to forget God, and to ‘walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them,’ they would ‘surely perish.’ Deuteronomy 8:19.” Prophets and Kings, 296.

5 What has always been the basis of God’s covenant with His people? Deuteronomy 4:13. How did Moses vividly illustrate Israel’s violation of this covenant?

Note: “Before Moses left his people for the mount, he read to them the words of the covenant that God had made with them, and they with one voice answered: ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ [Exodus 24:7.] How great must have been the sin of Aaron, how aggravated in the sight of God! …

“When he saw their idolatry, and that they had broken in a most marked manner the words of the covenant, he became overwhelmed with grief and indignation at their base idolatry. Confusion and shame on their account took possession of him, and he there threw down the tables and broke them. As they had broken their covenant with God, Moses, in breaking the tables, signified to them that so also God had broken His covenant with them. The tables whereupon was written the law of God were broken.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 297, 298.

6 Throughout the ages, what has been the result of ignoring or disobeying God’s law? Genesis 6:5–7; Hosea 4:1, 2.

Note: “What was it caused the destruction of the people in the world before the flood?—It was their own sin; for the thoughts and imaginations of their hearts were only evil, and evil continually. They trampled upon the commands of God, as did the Jews, and suffered God’s retributive judgment.” The Review and Herald, August 27, 1895.

“The time preceding the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel was one of similar disobedience and of similar wickedness. God’s law was counted as a thing of nought, and this opened the floodgates of iniquity upon Israel.” Prophets and Kings, 297.

7 How does the Lord describe His faithful followers? Jeremiah 6:2. How close is the relationship to be between God and His people? Ezekiel 16:8, last part; Hosea 2:19.

Note: “In the Bible the sacred and enduring character of the relation that exists between Christ and His church is represented by the union of marriage. The Lord has joined His people to Himself by a solemn covenant, He promising to be their God, and they pledging themselves to be His and His alone.” The Great Controversy, 381.

“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church—He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.” Education, 268.

8 While Israel was faithful to God, what beautiful description is given of her? Ezekiel 16:13, 14. When was this condition most applicable? II Chronicles 1:1.

Note: “For many years Solomon’s life was marked with devotion to God, with uprightness and firm principle, and with strict obedience to God’s commands. He directed in every important enterprise and managed wisely the business matters connected with the kingdom. …

“The name of Jehovah was greatly honored during the first part of Solomon’s reign. The wisdom and righteousness revealed by the king bore witness to all nations of the excellency of the attributes of the God whom he served. For a time Israel was as the light of the world, showing forth the greatness of Jehovah. Not in the surpassing wisdom, the fabulous riches, the far-reaching power and fame that were his, lay the real glory of Solomon’s early reign; but in the honor that he brought to the name of the God of Israel through a wise use of the gifts of Heaven.” Prophets and Kings, 32, 33.

9 Describe the conditions laid down in the Bible for the blessings of spiritual and material prosperity. Deuteronomy 26:17–19. What exalts a nation? Proverbs 14:34.

Note: “Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them ‘high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.’ ‘All people of the earth,’ said Moses, ‘shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.’ ‘The nations which shall hear all these statutes’ shall say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ Deuteronomy 26:19; 28:10; 4:6.” The Desire of Ages, 28.

“The strength of nations, as of individuals, is not found in the opportunities or facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. It is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God’s purpose.” Education, 175.

10 What specific blessing did the Lord especially desire for Israel to share with other nations? Genesis 12:1–3; Psalm 33:12. How are we to impart these blessings? Matthew 5:14–16.

Note: “Through Israel it was His [God’s] design to impart rich blessings to all peoples. Through them the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to the whole world. The nations of the world, through following corrupt practices, had lost a knowledge of God. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them opportunity for becoming acquainted with Him through His church. He designed that the principles revealed through His people should be the means of restoring in man the moral image of God. …

“God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 221, 222.

Additional Reading

“Our God is a jealous God. It is a fearful thing to trifle with Him. Anciently, Achan coveted a golden wedge and a Babylonish garment, and secreted them, and all Israel suffered; they were driven before their enemies. And when Joshua inquired the cause, the Lord said: ‘Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.’ [Joshua 7:13.] Achan had sinned, and God destroyed him and all his household, with all they possessed, and wiped the curse from Israel.

“I saw that the Israel of God must arise and renew their strength in God by renewing and keeping their covenant with Him. Covetousness, selfishness, love of money, and love of the world, are all through the ranks of Sabbathkeepers. These evils are destroying the spirit of sacrifice among God’s people. Those that have this covetousness in their hearts are not aware of it. It has gained upon them imperceptibly, and unless it is rooted out, their destruction will be as sure as was Achan’s. Many have taken the sacrifice from God’s altar. They love the world, love its gain and increase, and, unless there is an entire change in them, they will perish with the world. God has lent them means; it is not their own, but God has made them His stewards. And because of this, they call it their own and hoard it up. But, oh, how quick, when the prospering hand of God is removed from them, it is all snatched away in a moment! There must be a sacrificing for God, a denying of self for the truth’s sake. Oh, how weak and frail is man! How puny his arm! I saw that soon the loftiness of man is to be brought down, and the pride of man humbled. Kings and nobles, rich and poor, alike shall bow, and the withering plagues of God shall fall upon them.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 140.

“God’s word to His people is: ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, … and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters.’ ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ II Corinthians 6: 17, 18; I Peter 2:9. God’s people are to be distinguished as a people who serve Him fully, wholeheartedly, taking no honor to themselves, and remembering that by a most solemn covenant they have bound themselves to serve the Lord and Him only.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 17.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.