The Book of the Covenant, as the Law of Moses is described in Exodus, ends with some warnings, final instructions, and most importantly, a promise.
Exodus 23:20-22 says, “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
God lays out a contract in the Law of Moses with two sides. If the Israelites kept His commandments, then they would receive His promises. The rest of chapter 23 says that God will bless them with provisions and take away sicknesses (23:25-26). God will drive out their enemies little by little (23:27-30) and they will inherit the promised land (23:31).
God says He is going to send His angel (or in other translations His “messenger”). This messenger would protect them and keep them going in the right direction towards the place that God had prepared where all these blessings would be found.
That was the contract, and it came with a strict warning: “Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.”
Again, a covenant is an agreement with two sides. God gave His side, His promise, in this covenant, but we know Israel didn’t keep the deal. They broke the Law.
Isaiah wrote, “In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them.” (Isaiah 63:9-10).
Israel rebelled. They broke the contract. And so the promises God made, He had every right to retract them… And for many He did. Israel didn’t find all the blessings that He talked about. They didn’t enter the Promised Land and those that did, it still wasn’t everything it could have been.
But even though they broke the contract, the promise didn’t go away. There was still hope!
Malachi 3:1 says… “Behold, I send my messenger…” Those are the exact same words as Exodus 23:20.
God is going to send his messenger to bring them into the place that God had prepared. If they obeyed his voice then God would become an enemy to their enemies, leading the people into the promised land and enjoying the kingdom promises. The prophecy of Malachi keys into Exodus 23:20 and it shows that the promises made to Israel are still coming! Yes, Israel broke the covenant, but God is still working on His end.
Now listen to how the Gospel of Mark begins:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ”
Mark combines three prophecies, one from Isaiah, the one from Malachi, and one from Exodus 23:20. “Behold, I send my messenger before you.”
When John came, he was fulfilling what Exodus 23 was promising and the people needed to listen to him to be ready for the arrival of the kingdom.
In other words, hope was not lost!
The heart of God had been revealed by his law and when we listen to His voice God will be an enemy to our enemies and bless us with the blessings of the kingdom of God. In this kingdom we are given eternal life with God that our enemies cannot destroy or take from us.
Even though the Israelites broke the contract and even though each of us have broken the Law too, God keeps His promises. Hope is not lost! A messenger has come and He has announced that the kingdom is here! Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses! May we listen to His voice and do all that He commands and receive the great blessings of His kingdom!