He said, “If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your God, do what he considers right, pay attention to his mitzvot and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am Adonai your healer.”-Exodus 15:26
About 600 years before the time of the Exodus, recall that God appeared to Abraham and entered into a covenant with him.
However, there is a fundamental difference between that covenant and the one He made with Moses and the people of Israel.
This difference is expressed by one little word that has such TREMENDOUS repercussions.
That little word is “IF”.
If you go back and study Genesis, you will notice that God NEVER said to Abraham “If you will do this, I will give you this land” or “If you do that, I will make you a people”.
According to the ancient covenant making procedures of Abraham’s time, two parties had to walk between the body parts of an animal to seal an agreement.
However, it was only the blazing torch of God that passed between the body parts when the covenant with Abraham was sealed.
Thus, the covenant God made with Abraham was NOT conditional.
It was unilateral.
It was an unconditional promise 100% backed by God’s Holy Name.
Abraham didn’t have to do anything but trust that God would do what he said He would do.
On the other hand, the Mosaic covenant given at Sinai was different in that it was a set of laws the people were obligated to obey.
And by default, there came CONSEQUENCES for breaking these laws.
Again, this difference is all due to whether that one little word “IF” is there or not.
If you think about it, our entire legal system is really based on a whole bunch of “ifs”.
Once you have a series of “ifs”, a situation is automatically created whereby one can accuse you of breaking a law, you then need a judge to determine the appropriate punishment and you need to establish a punitive system so that the judge’s sentence can be enforced.
Since the word “IF” wasn’t present in the covenant God made with Abraham, we can conclude that it wasn’t really a law but more of an unconditional vow or oath.