To understand the issue, we need to spread the net wider than only to include the Mosaic Law.
All men instinctively link performance to reward, and punishment to non-performance. It is a fact of life in the real world, and men assume it applies to our relationship to God in the spiritual world as well. Since all infraction is based on lack of control of the desires of the body, men believe that performance or compliance lies in keeping them in check. This is the basis of dualism, the belief that the body is evil and that the spirit is good and the secret to meeting a good end is to shed the body, and allow the spirit to have its way and therefore its reward. These are deductions, based on observation of life processes and cycles.
The Judeo Christian religion is the only religion with a record of the interaction between its God and His followers, with a theme which does not change, even though it has been written by different writers. The information is not based on observations of life, but a recording of the plan of its God, and the interactions of that God with His People.
Deuteronomy 4:7"For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?
2 Kings 18:33Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?
To clarify, other religions assume a performance and reward situation. The Bible conveys a purpose and empowerment situation. God created humanity to manifest selflessness, but the plan was interrupted by a very avoidable ignorance of a warning. You can liken it to a gardener planting pots for a competition of flawless plants, and warning the plants to avoid excessive sunlight, and the plants ignoring the warning.
The fall resulted in a change in the nature of the plant making it unsuitable for competition. In Adam's case the fall resulted in a change in his nature, that resulted in separation from God, to lose a very necessary characteristic for him to bear fruit, manifest righteousness. To re-empower him to subdue his selfish desires, God took him out of the contaminated humanity, in preparation for a new humanity, a new garden, a city from above. This new man to be operationalised by a Seed, which would strike a killing blow to the entity that was the source of selfishness.
Genesis 3:15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
God chose a sample of Adam that closely exhibited the characteristics that was required for the mission, making Abraham the prototype for the person and group which would carry out the mission. That characteristic was loyalty, an attribute that manifests in a group that has an affinity for each other, in the case of God's group, an affinity to manifest righteousness, selflessness.
To reiterate, the goal, teleos, is not to avoid punishment, hell, but to restore, rescue, save, the mission to subdue creation, the universe, of which man is a microcosm.
Romans 8:19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
In Israel, in captivity in Egypt, God finds the group, family, People, that closely matches His requirements for the New Humanity He has planned, and raised up for, with regards to the promise made to Abraham. He leads them into the desert planning to operationalise that which He promised to Abraham. But Israel is tied down to the habits of the world. She wants a performance-reward arrangement, finding the rich poor divide between her and God too wide, feels too unevenly matched. What if God decides to turn on His Cinderella bride in a pique? And with God's power previously displayed to be overwhelming, the only situation in which Israel thinks she can stand a chance in, to resist any attack, is to depend on the rule of law and a cast iron contract. The righteousness of God and a Covenant.
God agrees to the arrangement, but it cannot, and does not, supersede the promise made to Abraham 430 years earlier. The Sinaitic Covenant is an addendum to that promise. The hybrid Covenant is from now on referred to as Law.
The terms and condition of the Sinaitic Covenant is performance of the 613 precepts in return for averting wrath. No one has ever performed it as it should be performed, perfectly. All under the law face its consequence, death. But the law does not result in the promise to Abraham being abrogated. It still stood. The terms and conditions of this promise is manifesting loyalty, being on God's side, faithfulness. The result is acceptance into God's People, family, justification, recognition as being those sharing the same interest as God, to manifest righteousness, selflessness. Those under law enjoy the benefit of the contract they respond to. If one is doing work, one receives wages, either averting wrath, life, or receiving wrath, death. Since no one has ever performed as required, all under law receive death. If one is loyal, agrees with God's views, believes His promise, obeys God's voice, one is justified, recognised as family, accepted deeper and deeper into the inner circles, until one shares all the interests as the closest member of the family. Like Elizabeth and Zacharias.
Consider how different people react to the same problem depending on whether they are family or staff. The hired hand will not lay down their life for the family.
Suppose workers are hired to join in the team to inspect and maintain a dam. The morning shift staff finds a leak. They can fix the leak, but risk their life in the process, or they can return to town to summon help. Since they are not paid to risk their life you can guess what option they choose. The children of the town dwellers in the team react differently. They can't risk the dam collapsing whilst they return to town to seek help. They immediately begin the work of fixing the leak, before the flow further weakens the structure, even though they face risk to their lives. The difference is that they share the interests of the town dwellers. Selfless service and selfish service are indistinguishable.
Joshua and Caleb are interested in getting the children into the Promised Land, where security is stable and guaranteed, in return for facing and overcoming a present danger. The others, although they profess concern for the children, are more interested in the immediate saving of their own skins.
Israel never became extinct, like other nations. They would have gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, vanished because of living selfish lives, bowing their knee to Baal, apart from the presence of the remnant, who always lived selflessly.
Romans 8:29And just as Isaiah foretold, "UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT TO US A POSTERITY, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH."
The two components had always existed side by side, hired hand and sons, slaves and heirs, Ishmael and Isaac. However the time had now come to drive out the son of the bonds woman, to make the People of God, in its Church version, free from the oppression of the latter, because it was always God's plan that his family would be made up of heirs, not slaves, be identified by family relationship, not employment obligations, faith not work.
This is confirmed in Ephesians 2:8 where Gentiles are told that their inclusion is by grace, not the works of their idol worship, the arrangements they made to avert God's wrath. It is clear that the issue under discussion is not the Sinaitic Covenant, because Gentiles were never under that contract.
Paul is very clear in his mission. All traces of the son of the bonds woman had to be driven out, in order for all members to share with the Heir in the inheritance. The only relationship that must exist in the Church is Father and children, and not master and slaves. God had allowed the hired hands to exist because they were oracle bearers, passing down the information about how to identify Messiah. That's why John the Baptist was the greatest of those born of a woman, the greatest hired hand. But even the least in the family of God was greater than him, because even the least in the Kingdom could access the inheritance, which would not have been possible if they acted out their presence in the role of slaves.
It's now clear that Paul is rebuking the imposing of slaveship on believers by Judaizers, by insisting they carry on the work of oracle bearing. Not only was the function redundant (Messiah had already been identified by using the information) the continuation of oracle bearing actually meant rejection of Messiah, resulting in Christ being of no benefit to those who continued in observing works of the Law.
I repeat, Paul rebukes the continuation of oracle bearing through observing works of the law, law keeping like circumcision, which informed that Messiah would be cut, cursed, hung from a tree, executed, like the halves of the animal that Abraham walked between.
Luther was looking for a way to neutralize the benefits of merit, the merit that the Church claimed it was the repository of, because it taught that all the extra merit earned by its Saints could be sold to those who needed it and could pay for it. He mistook Paul's attack on works of the Law to be attacks on people who were trying to get into heaven through merit. It seemed to him that Paul was supporting the idea that getting rewarded, being allowed to enter heaven, was by the exercising of belief. The actual teaching is a little more layered. Getting rewarded is by manifesting the symptoms of affinity with the interests of God. It begins with belief and is perfected, completed, by action.
James 2:21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
All Scripture from the NASB.