Belcher acknowledges, “The Mosaic covenant is the most difficult covenant to understand” due to its multifaceted nature (75). He begins by noting that the Mosaic covenant is a means of fulfilling the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. Exodus explicitly states that God delivered Israel in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.
Belcher then turns to Exodus 19 and 24. His comments are disappointingly general and do not engage the question of whether or not these passages indicate the Mosaic covenant is a conditional covenant or not.
Belcher then turns to Deuteronomy, which he argues is a renewal of the Sinai covenant. He argues that when Deuteronomy 5:2-3 said that God did not make the Sinai covenant with their fathers but with them, it means that God did not make the Sinai covenant with the patriarchs and that the second generation stands in solidarity with the first generation. In favor of this reading is that “fathers” in Deuteronomy universally refers to the patriarchs.
In the latter part of the chapter Belcher argues for the Mosaic covenant’s inclusion within the covenant of grace, while also recognizing its distinctiveness. First, he argues that the Mosaic covenant furthered the fulfillment of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. He thinks this points to both being part of a single covenant of grace. Second, he claims that the phrase “my covenant” applied to the Noahic, Abrahamic, and Mosaic covenants (Gen 6:18; 17:2; Ex 19:5) indicates that these covenants are part of an overarching covenant.
Belcher rejects the claim that the Mosaic covenant is a republication of the covenant of works. First, he holds that the necessity of perfect obedience to the law is universal. Since the law is prominent in the Mosaic covenant the Jews rightly understood it to require perfect obedience to the law to avoid condemnation, and everyone ought to keep the law. Belcher says that this was always true of Jew and Gentile and is not unique to the Mosaic covenant. Second, republication is an incorrect interpretation because Israel entered the covenant already fallen. Third, Belcher claims that both the second and third uses of the law are at work, and it depends on the state of the person as to which is foremost. In this Belcher wishes to distinguish the Mosaic covenant and the law that is contained within the covenant. He did not wish to define the covenant as a law covenant. Finally, Belcher argues that the physical blessings and curses of the Mosaic covenant are typological. They do not pertain to salvation.
Belcher’s overall argument for the inclusion of the Mosaic covenant within the covenant of grace suffers from a failure to examine whether or not the Mosaic covenant is a conditional covenant or not. This is the fundamental issue. I would argue that Exodus 19 as well as several NT references back to the Mosaic covenant make it clear that the Mosaic covenant is a conditional, and thus a works, covenant.
Belcher’s arguments do not overturn this. The Mosaic covenant can further God’s covenant plan without being part of a covenant of grace. The phrase “my covenant” by no means clearly refers to a covenant of grace. It is not right to abstract the law from the covenant; the law defines the Mosaic covenant. Israel’s entrance into the covenant already fallen meant that it could never attain the covenant conditions and would therefore come under the covenant curses, which God states explicitly in Deuteronomy 28-30. However, Christ was born under this covenant and did fulfill its conditions. While there is typology at work in the Mosaic covenant, it is not correct to draw a sharp line between the physical blessings and curses and salvation.