Thursday, January 6, 2011

The God of Covenants

Mary Poppins once corrected her adoring children who promised to stay with her forever to not make "pie crust promises" which are "easily made, easily broken."  God makes covenants with man and are as enduring as God is Himself.  Paul Benware defines a covenant as “An agreement between two parties that bound them together with common interests and responsibilities.”  (Understanding End Times Prophecy, p. 322).  Covenants, in the Old Testament, were contracts that governed how two parties relate to each other.

Genesis 26:28  But they said, “We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you’”

Features of an OT Covenant:
  • Agreement negotiated between 2 parties (Gen 15:1-7)
  • Agreement ratified (Gen 15:8-17)
  • Pledge given (item - 1 Sam 18:4, Ezek 17:18; oath - Gen 21,26)
  • Sign given as reminder (rainbow - Gen 9:14-17; circumcision - Gen 17:9-14)
  • Witness may be used for verification (1 Sam 23:18; Gen 31:50)
  • Penalties may be employed if broker (Dt 29:21; Jer 34:18-20)
Here are the significant Covenants in the OT:

Unconditional promise not flood the earth
Gen 9:12-17
No more sea (Rev 21:1)
Rainbow (Gen 9:12-17)
Promise to provide Israel a land, rule and spiritual blessing
Gen 12:1-3; 15:13-18
Continues at present (Gal  3:17), but Israel still has a future in the new covenant (see Rom 11:25-27)
Circumcision (Gen 17:11)
Conditional stipulations for blessing on Israel
Ex 19 – 31; Dt 28
Death of Christ (Rom 7:4-6)
Sabbath (Ex 31:13)
Promise of physical land from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River
Dt 30:1-10
Land blessed (Amos 9:13-15)

No sign (that I know of)

Promise of eternal political rule of a descendant of David
2 Sam 7:12-17
Rule renewed (Amos 9:11-12)
Christ seated at the Father’s right hand (Act 2:34-36)
Promise of spiritual indwelling of the Spirit (law written on hearts), forgiveness, and total evangelization of Israel
Jer 31:31-34
Paul and the apostles (2 Cor 3-4)

All Israel saved (Romans 11:26-27)
Cup of the Lord’s Supper (Lk 21:20; 1 Cor 11:25)
(from H. Wayne House & Randall Price’s Charts of Bible Prophecy, p. 27)

The Abrahamic Covenant is significant because God promised to Abraham unconditionally:
  • a land (Gen 12:1,7; 13:14-17; 15:17-21; 17:8)
  • personal blessings with family, wealth and a great name (Gen 12:2, 17:4-6; 22:15-17)
  • a nation (Gen 17:4-8; 22:17)
  • blessing the world through Abraham (Gen 12:3; 22:18)
God reminded Abraham of this covenant 8x (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18; 26:2-5,24; 28:13-17; 35:10-12).  It was fulfilled partially with Abraham when he received land (Gen 13:14,15,17), servants (Gen 15:7), cattle and wealth (Gen 13:2; 24:34-35).  He was spiritually blessed, had a great name and fathered several nations.  His blessing passed through Isaac, born of his wife Sarah (Gen 21:2).

The significance of this covenant today is that it will be ultimately fulfilled in the future with prophetic ramifications for Israel.  When God says "forever," He means it.

Genesis 13:15  for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever

Genesis 17:7-8  7And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Abrahamic Covenant:

·      Mosaic Covenant – Nation Formed
·      Davidic Covenant – Line of Kings over Nation
·      New Covenant – Enablement for Blessing
          (Albert Baylis – On The Way To Jesus, Multnomah Press, 1986, p. 92)

If God is a God of His word, the Covenant God will fulfill this covenant with Abraham's nation through Isaac:  Israel.  God doesn't make pie-crust promises.
(Holman Bible Atlas, p. 5)

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