And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." (Exod. 24:6-8)
Here God enters a covenant relationship with his people. The Ten Commandments had just been given to them in Exodus 20, the basis for all Old Testament law, but now based on the requirements and stipulations of that Law, God binds himself to the people of Israel by means of covenant. A covenant in the Bible is a solemn binding agreement between two or more parties wherein each agree to certain terms of the covenant in order remain in covenant relationship with one another. Covenants were often entered with the shedding of blood by means of a sacrifice. The idea was that if either party were to violate the terms of the covenant, then may what happen to the sacrificial animal happen to the one who violates the covenant.
Within the context of Exodus, God has just delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and is establishing them as a nation with himself as their king. He has given them the Law which they are required to keep, and God will be their king and will provide for them and protect them. Israel, however, failed to keep the Law and so God brings destruction upon them in 722 BC when the Assyrians destroy the northern portion of Israel, and then in 586 BC when God uses the Babylonians to destroy the southern portion of Israel. Then in AD 70, God destroys Jerusalem and the Temple for a final time.
What does any of this have to do with Advent? Christ came to earth and was born in Bethlehem in order to establish a new covenant with a new people so that, as it says in Hosea, “‘Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.' And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God’” (Rom. 9:25-26; Hosea 1:10; 2:23). This is the new covenant prophesied about in Jeremiah 31:31-34, which Christ inaugurates in his death and with his blood (Lk 22:20). Advent is about celebrating God entering a new covenant relationship with a new people comprised of Jews and non-Jews who are in union with Christ by faith. It’s about being brought into a relationship with the living God, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ has done for us.
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