With chapter 8 Myers turns to the Mosaic covenant, the core of which he understands to be Exodus 19-24. Myers’s main point in this chapter is that the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace.
First, he notes that Exodus 19 ties the Mosaic covenant to the deliverance of the Israelites, which took place due to the Abrahamic covenant (Ex. 2:23-25). Both those who see the Mosaic covenant as part of the covenant of grace and those who see it as a works covenant in some way agree that the Abrahamic covenant stood behind Israel’s deliverance, so it is unclear how this observation advances the thesis that the Mosaic covenant is part of the covenant of grace. Since I don’t see the Abrahamic covenant as part of an overarching covenant of grace, I don’t find this line of argumentation compelling. Everything argued here is also consistent with a unified plan of redemption that is unfolded through a series of distinct covenants.
Second, Myers argues that Exodus 19:4 contextualizes the covenant conditions within God’s gracious deliverance of Israel. However, the fact that the Mosaic covenant is graciously given in order to continue God’s plan of redemption does not mean that it is part of a unitary covenant of grace, nor does it mean that the Mosaic covenant is a unilateral covenant. Myers emphasizes 19:4 at the expense of exegeting 19:5-6, and in so doing he blunts the if/then structure of 19:5-6. I would argue that 19:4 shows the Mosaic covenant is graciously given and 19:5-6 show that the blessings of the covenant are conditional upon the obedience of Israel.
Third, Myers argues that the Mosaic covenant further clarifies the covenant of grace. In particular, he argues that all ten of the Ten Commandments are found in Scripture prior to the Mosaic covenant and that the Mosaic covenant blessedly revealed God’s will more clearly to God’s people. I agree with Myers here, but I don’t see how it makes the Mosaic covenant part of the covenant of grace. This argument is consistent with a unified redemptive plan that unfolds through a series of covenants. Nor does this argument preclude the Mosaic covenant from being a works covenant.
Fourth, Myers argues that the continuity between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants is seen in the way the Mosaic covenant advances the seed, land, and universal blessing promises. The seed promise is advanced by Israel becoming a nation with its own governing laws. The land promise is advanced through laws that govern life in the promised land. The promise of blessing to the nations is advanced by Israel’s calling to serve as a kingdom of priests. Myers notes, “A priest represents God to human beings and he brings people into God’s presence” (193). By obeying the Mosaic law God reveals the character of God to the nations. Myers could have also cited Deuteronomy 4 to buttress the point that obedience to the law could also serve to bring the nations to God. Myers sees Israel’s priestly role stated not only in Exodus 19 but also enacted in Exodus 24. He thinks that the covenant ceremony there was the ordination of the nation into the priestly role. I agree with what Myers says here, and I find it consistent with a unified plan of redemption unfolded through a series of distinct covenants.
Finally, Myers argues that the Mosaic covenant advances the covenant of grace by the sacrificial system, which taught the seriousness of sin and the need for atonement.
The chapter concludes with a brief critique of Meredith Kline’s view of the Mosaic covenant. Kline held that on a spiritual level the Mosaic covenant was part of the covenant of grace but that on a typical level it was a covenant of works. Myers objects to Kline’s view on four grounds. First, he does not find the distinction between typical and spiritual levels of the covenant exegetically warranted. Second, he doesn’t think that the typology works since in Kline’s view imperfect obedience is required on the typical level while perfect obedience is required for justification. Third, he is concerned that Kline’s view undermines the universal applicability of the Decalogue. Fourth, Myers argues that God did not delay in judging Israel was not due to Israel’s relative obedience but was due to God’s mercy. Finally, Myers takes issue with Kline’s argument that Exodus 24 refers to Israel entering into a bilateral covenant, arguing instead for the view that Israel is being ordained as a nation of priests.
I agree with the first, second, and fourth of these critiques. With regard to Exodus 24, T. D. Alexander argues persuasively for both Israel being ordained as a nation of priests and for the institution of a bilateral covenant. I would also note that Kline and other covenant theologians influenced by him do rightly notice that the Mosaic covenant has a works element. There are numerous ways that covenant theologians have attempted to reconcile the Mosaic covenant as an administration of the covenant of grace and these works elements. Some covenant theologians, such as John Owen and certain historic Baptist covenant theologians, deny that the Mosaic covenant is part of the covenant of grace. Myers, however, does not engage with the texts in which these works elements are found (apart from Ex 19:5-6). For instance, he has no discussion of the passages in which the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience are pronounced.
One note of correction. Myers opens chapter 8 with the comment that dispensationalists see the Mosaic covenant as providing a different “economy for salvation under the Old Testament” (186). Revised and progressive dispensationalists have clearly rejected the teaching of multiple ways of salvation. There is a passage in the original Scofield Reference Bible that has given rise to this charge, but some dispensationalists argue that based on other things Scofield said, this statement should not be read as if people were saved in a different way under the Mosaic economy. Even if one concludes that Scofield did teach multiple ways of salvation, dispensationalists have rejected that position explicitly for the past sixty years.