The covenant God made with Moses on Mt Sinai marked a big authority shift on earth.† Everyone and everything were affected.

1. God

God regained some of the authority on earth that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned.

The Mosaic covenant gave God authority over the land of Canaan.† The Israelites were free to reject his authority at any time but the consequences were different. † The covenant with Adam and Eve was unconditional, which gave humans absolute authority on earth.† If they chose to rebel against God, they could shut him out and he would lose his authority on the earth.

The covenant with Moses was conditional. It offered similar blessings, but human authority was significantly constrained.† Under this covenant, the Israelites could still reject Godís authority, but they could not shut him out of the land.† Rather, the covenant specified that if they rebelled against God, they would be ejected from the land instead of him.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess (Deut 30:17-18).

Under the covenant with Adam and Eve, God could be exiled from the earth.† Under the covenant with Moses, the Israelites could be exiled, but Godís authority in the land would remain.

The covenant gave God a place on earth under his authority where his will could be done.† For the first time in history, he had authority over a piece of land where he was free to operate, and humans could not push him out.

God had worked away for more than 2000 years to get this foothold of authority on earth.† He gained authority over a small land situated in the middle of some powerful empires.† This was not perfect. † He could not be certain that his people would obey him.† He knew they would rebel, but he could deal with that.

With land and a people, God could start some serious work on earth.† His goal was to expand out into the rest of the earth.† The Promised Land would be a beachhead from which he could launch his redeeming work to the world.

2. Children of Israel

The children of Israel gained spiritual protection. † The Law of Moses contained a set of sacrifices for dealing with human sin.† These sacrifices did not make people righteous before God, as only the cross of Jesus could achieve such a difficult task.† However, the sacrifices specified by Moses were sufficient to satisfy God until Jesus came, because they pointed to his perfect sacrifice.† Sinful people could not change their hearts, but they could make peace with God by offering sacrifices for sin.† This would allow the children of Israel to keep their peace with God, even though they would often sin.

The sacrifices were an early form of spiritual protection, because they freed people from the guilt of sin (Heb 9:13). † Evil spirits could not attack a person whose sin had been cleansed by a sacrifice, so the tabernacle sacrifices reduced their vulnerability to demonic attacks.† They were not a permanent solution to sin, as only Jesus could provide that, but they did free the people from the guilt of sin, which protected them from demons.

3. The World

The Law of Moses restrained personal and social evil by providing a way for dealing with crime and settling disputes between people. The laws specified two types of crime. People caught stealing were required to make three- or fourfold restitution.† A person guilty of assaulting another was required to pay financial compensation proportional to the harm done to their victims.† This compensated the victims of crime and made stealing unattractive. † Some people would still steal, but most would not run the risk.

The laws against these crimes were to be enforced by the local judges accepted within each community. These judges would emerge into their role when their wisdom was recognised within their families and tribes.† Judges functioning within their local communities were expected to apply Godís law to personal and social disputes.

The law provided a way for large communities of people to live in peace with each other.† The law could not eliminate sin, but it removed the worst effects of sin. If Godís laws had been applied, they would have constrained the worst evil in Israel.

God intended Israel to be a light to the nations. † If the Israelites had submitted to his law, they would have experienced great blessing.† The surrounding nations would see the blessing, and choose to adopt Godís law to get some blessing for themselves.

Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ďSurely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.Ē What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? † And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today (Deut 4:6-8)?

The nations would see the blessing that comes from submitting to God and his law.† Even if they would not accept God, they would try to get the benefits that came from adopting his law.†

Unfortunately, Israel rejected Godís authority and followed the ways of the nations.† They lost their blessing and never demonstrated the benefits of Godís law to the nations. Their light was lost. The surrounding nations saw Israel under a curse, so they wanted to have nothing to do with its God.

4. Spiritual Powers of Evil

The sole disadvantage of the Law of Moses was that it empowered the spiritual powers of evil.† The law strengthened Satan who accuses people before God, because the law defined transgression and specified the curses associated with it. This made it easier for him to accuse Godís people transgression.† The powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law on everyone who transgressed the law.

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions (Gal 3:19).

Prior to the giving of the law through Moses, transgression was undefined. The law specified the behaviour that God required from the people that he called. The law also spelt out in detail the consequences of transgression.

The spiritual powers of evil gained authority to inflict the curses of the law on sinners. They demanded the right to shed blood for sin.† He demanded death for all sinners.

The law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom 4:15)

Once the law of the covenant was in place, the spiritual powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law against the children of Israel whenever they transgressed the law. A spirit called Wrath was often the leader of this activity. The giving of the law with curses specified for disobedience increased the power of Wrath and the destroying angels working with him.