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Sermon No: 71351-Covenants



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SERMON TOPIC: Covenants

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 5 June 2020

Topic Groups: COVENANTS, COLLEGE, NEW COVENANT

Sermon synopsis: A contract or covenant has always been a crucial part of God’s relationship with his people.

Covenant is a legal concept often used in the Bible as a metaphor to describe the relationship between God and humankind… The idea of a covenant between God and humankind lies at the heart of the Bible. This idea explains the selection of the word testament, a synonym for covenant, in naming the two parts of the Bible.
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SERMON OVERVIEW:

MODULE 2: THE BIBLE

CHAPTER 6: THE BLOOD COVENANT

CHAPTER 8: BIBLE COVENANTS

CHAPTER 7: COVENANT TERMS

COVENANTS

SYNONYMS: Contract, deal, pact, agreement, treaty, alliance, pledge, constitution, testament or will.

DEFINITION: A covenant is a legally enforceable agreement between 2 or more persons to do or to refrain from doing a certain act.

EXAMPLES: Typical commonplace contracts are marriage, business partnerships, sale of property, insurance policies, hire-purchase agreements, rental or lease contracts, inter-country treaties etc.

The contract might be between equals or non-equals.

The contract might have all terms stipulated by one party (e.g. hire purchase) or could have terms negotiated by both parties (e.g. business partnership).

COVENANTS

Both parties must voluntarily agree to enter into the contract (no duress).

A contract with conditions attached might require mediation by a third party.

There might be conditions (about either promised action and/or non-action) attached to one or both parties (e.g. inter-country alliance treaty) or it may be unconditional (e.g. last will or testament).

If either party breaches the agreement by not adhering to the stipulated conditions, the other party is automatically released from their obligations, and the contract becomes null and void. There may be a penalty clause to penalise the offending party.

COVENANTS

The contract must be signed by both parties and countersigned by witnesses to make it legally binding.

The conditions of the contract can only be legally changed by consent of both parties, or by the existence of a more recent contract, which supersedes the previous one.

A contract or covenant has always been a crucial part of God’s relationship with his people.

Covenant is a legal concept often used in the Bible as a metaphor to describe the relationship between God and humankind… The idea of a covenant between God and humankind lies at the heart of the Bible. This idea explains the selection of the word testament, a synonym for covenant, in naming the two parts of the Bible. 1

1 New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopaedia

EQUALS OR NON-EQUALS

In ancient times, there were 2 kinds of covenants:

a voluntary agreement between equals - as with David and Jonathan (1 Sam 18:3)

treaties between a great king and a lesser king (his vassal). Covenants between God and his people are always of this type. God dictates the terms of the covenant (asserting his sovereignty and kingship) and the people have an obligation of obedience. God does not enter into covenants of parity with men as we are not his equals.

Isaiah 40:25 (NIV) “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

EQUALS OR NON-EQUALS

Not only the Hebrew, but also the Greek, emphasises that God’s covenants are not an agreement between equals. The Septuagint (LXX), which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is useful in ascertaining the equivalent Greek terms for the Hebrew. In its translation of the Hebrew berîth, more light is thrown in this regard:

The LXX avoided the usual Greek term for covenant, synthêke (meaning a thing mutually “put together”), as unsuitable for the action of the sovereign God and substituted diathêke (a thing, literally, “put through”), the primary meaning of which is “a disposition of property by a will.” 1

Diathêke (which the Greeks used in the sense of “testament”) is also the term used for covenant in the NT.

1 Zondervan Pictorial Bible dictionary

EQUALS OR NON-EQUALS

In modern times we have contracts where we are not able to negotiate conditions but are obliged to accept what the initiating party has stipulated (e.g. a rental agreement). Our extent of negotiation is in accepting or rejecting the terms altogether, but not in modifying them.

Likewise, the covenants between God and man do not have the conditions negotiated by both parties. God stipulates the conditions for men, but in his love, also imposes conditions on himself, albeit not due to pressure or bargaining by men (e.g. the Abrahamic covenant). Man’s freedom of choice allows for acceptance or rejection of the contract, but not for variation of God’s stipulated terms.

Both parties must voluntarily agree to enter into the contract (no duress).

There might be conditions (about either promised action and/or non-action) attached to one or both parties or it may be unconditional.

There were different kinds of covenants in the biblical world, however, just as there are different kinds of contracts today. In the ancient Near East there were 3 main types of covenants:

BETWEEN EQUALS

the covenant of parity

BETWEEN NON-EQUALS

a royal grant (UNCONDITIONAL)

the suzerain-vassal covenant (CONDITIONAL)

CONDITIONS

COVENANT TYPES

Parity: A covenant between equals, binding them to mutual friendship or at least to mutual respect for each other’s spheres and interests.

Participants called each other “brothers”.

This was the type of covenant entered into by Abraham and Abimelech, Jacob and Laban, and David and Jonathan.

All covenants between God and man are either of the Royal Grant or Suzerain-Vassal type, or both.

COVENANT TYPES

Suzerain-Vassal (conditional): A covenant regulating a relationship between a great king and one of his subject kings.

The great king claimed absolute right of sovereignty, demanded total loyalty and service (the vassal must “love” his suzerain) and pledged protection of the subject’s realm and dynasty, conditional on the vassal's faithfulness and loyalty to him.

The vassal pledged absolute loyalty to his suzerain - whatever service his suzerain demanded - an exclusive reliance on the suzerain’s protection.

Participants called each other “lord” and “servant”, or “father” and “son”.

COVENANT TYPES

The Mosaic covenant (Exodus 19-24; Deuteronomy; Joshua 24) seems to have been modelled on this covenant, the political treaty between a powerful king and his weaker vassal. Following the standard form of such treaties, God (the suzerain) reminds Israel (the vassal) how he has saved them, and Israel in response accepts the covenant stipulations. Israel is promised a blessing for obedience and a curse for breaking the covenant.

COVENANT TYPES

Royal grant (unconditional): A king’s grant to a loyal servant for faithful or exceptional service.

In this type of covenant, a king rewards a loyal subject by granting him an office, land, exemption from taxes, or the like. The grant was normally perpetual and unconditional, but the servant’s heirs benefited from it only as they continued their father’s loyalty and service.

It is typical of such covenants that only the superior party binds himself; conditions are not imposed on the inferior party. Such covenants are also referred to as covenants of promise or unconditional covenants. The covenants God made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), and David (2 Samuel 7; 23:5) fit this pattern. In each of these cases, it is God alone who binds himself by a solemn oath to keep the covenant.

COVENANT TYPES

Testament or will: Jesus added another model, that of a last will and testament. At the Last Supper, he interpreted his own life and death as the perfect covenant.

A testament (will) requires the death of the testator.

Heb 9:16-17 (NIV) In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.

COVENANT TYPES

COVENANT

TYPE

PARTICIPANTS

Edenic

Suzerain-Vassal

Adam & Eve

Adamic

Royal Grant

All mankind

Noachic

Royal Grant / Suzerain-Vassal

Noah, his descendants and every living thing on earth

Abrahamic

Royal Grant

Abraham

Mosaic

Suzerain-Vassal

Israel

Phinehas

Royal Grant

Phinehas

Davidic

Royal Grant

David

New

Royal grant /

Last will or testament

All men who believe

COVENANT MEDIATORS

The contract might have all terms stipulated by one party or could have terms negotiated by both parties. A contract with conditions attached might require mediation by a third party.

A mediator is someone who acts as a negotiator between 2 or more parties either to settle a dispute, or to bring about a settlement or agreement. A covenant mediator belongs to the latter group. They arbitrate between the covenant parties to bring about agreement on the covenant terms. Thus a royal grant requires no mediator.

Gal 3:20 (NIV) A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

Since the promise God covenanted with Abraham involved commitment only from God’s side, no mediator was involved.

COVENANT MEDIATORS

The 2 central mediators in the Bible are:

Mediator of the Old Covenant (Testament): Moses

Mediator of the New Covenant (Testament): Jesus

John 1:17 (NIV) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

The Mosaic covenant was a formal arrangement of mutual commitments between God and Israel, with Moses as the mediator between the Israelites and the angels who put the covenant into effect.

Gal 3:19 (NIV) …The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.

COVENANT MEDIATORS

With the New Covenant between God and all mankind, Jesus acted as mediator between God and men:

1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.

Heb 9:15 (NIV) ... Christ is the mediator of a new covenant

If either party breaches the agreement by not adhering to the stipulated conditions, the other party is automatically released from their obligations, and the contract becomes null and void. There may be a penalty clause to penalise the offending party.

Heb 8:9 (NIV) It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

BREACH

BREACH

God always honours his covenants, unlike people who often make covenant vows and then dishonour them. The marriage covenant where people swear “until death us do part” with God as a witness, and then disregard this is but one example.

Malachi 2:13-16 (NIV) … You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings… You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his … So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD …

COVENANT SIGNS

The contract must be signed to make it legally binding.

A covenant sign was a visible seal and reminder of covenant commitments.

COVENANT

SIGN

Noachic

Rainbow

Abrahamic

Circumcision

Mosaic

Sabbath

New

Baptism, Communion

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (Gen 9:13)

COVENANT SIGNS

The rainbow was the sign of the covenant with Noah.

In Ruth 4:1-12, the covenant Boaz makes is ratified by one party giving the other party one of his sandals.

Jonathan gives David some of his clothing and weapons as a sign of their covenant.

1 Sam 18:3-4 (NIV) And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

COVENANT SIGNS

COVENANT SIGNS

The sign of the Abrahamic Covenant is circumcision.

Genesis 17:9-11 (NIV) Then God said to Abraham, “…This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you…”

Romans 4:11 (NIV) And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised…

COVENANT SIGNS

Acts 7:8 (NIV) Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision.

This is why when under Greek rule, some Jews tried to remove the evidence of their circumcision, it was considered to be abandoning their covenant

1 Maccabees 1:13-15 (CEB) Some of them eagerly went to King Antiochus, who gave them permission to start living by the laws of the Gentiles. Consequently, they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, following Gentile custom. They even took steps to remove the marks of circumcision, utterly abandoning the holy covenant

COVENANT SIGNS

Circumcision was the sign of the covenant with Abraham, and the Sabbath was the sign of the covenant with Israel at Sinai. Both of these practices have been contentious issues in the church. However as they are remnants of previous covenants, it is important to remember that legally a more recent covenant supersedes previous ones. This explains why neither of these apply to the those who partake of the New Covenant.

The NT makes it clear that we are no longer required to be circumcised. Paul writes to those partaking of the New Covenant:

Galatians 5:6 (NIV) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

COVENANT SIGNS

The signs of the New Covenant are:

Baptism:

Col 2:11-12 (NIV) In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

In the Old (Mosaic Covenant), circumcision was a sign that the individual stood in covenant relation with God. While the above passage is the only reference where circumcision is associated with baptism, some see the passage as implying that, for the Christian, water baptism is the parallel sign of the covenant relationship.

COVENANT SIGNS

The cup (Communion) also is a sign of the covenant:

Luke 22:20 (NKJV) Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

BLOOD COVENANTS

Just as a contract without signatures is not legally binding, so God’s covenants with man are often sealed with a “blood signature.”

COVENANT

BLOOD

Adamic

Animals killed for garments

Noachic

Sacrifice of clean animals and birds

Abrahamic

Sacrifice of heifer, a goat and a ram, along with a dove and a young pigeon.

Old (Mosaic)

Blood of lambs, bulls and goats

New

Jesus’ blood on the cross

CUTTING A COVENANT

The Hebrew term bĕriyth for “covenant” is from a root with the sense of “cutting”, because pacts or covenants were made by passing between cut pieces of flesh of the victim of an animal sacrifice. 1 E.g. Genesis 15:1-21

Genesis 15:18 - made a covenant, Literally, “cut a covenant,” referring to the slaughtering of the animals (the same Hebrew verb is translated “made” and “cut” in Jeremiah 34:18). 2

Passing between the pieces of the slaughtered animals had the following significance. In ancient times the parties solemnised a covenant by walking down an aisle flanked by the pieces of slaughtered animals.

1 Strong’s Concordance 2 NIV Study Bible Notes

CUTTING A COVENANT

Gen 15:7-18 (NIV) He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half… On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land…

CUTTING A COVENANT

The practice signified a self-maledictory oath: “May it be so done to me if I do not keep my oath and pledge.”

Note the following example of this in Jeremiah:

Jer 34:18-20 (NIV) The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the Covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, I will hand over to their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

The Covenant with Israel was a “blood covenant.”

Exodus 24:8 (NIV) Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Heb 9:18-21 (NIV) This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies.

BLOOD COVENANTS

The Law required that the blood of animals be sprinkled on the altar for a sin offering, indicating the substitution of the victim’s blood for that of the sinner.

Hebrews 9:22 (NIV) In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

To bring about atonement and to establish the New Covenant it was necessary for Jesus to shed his blood.

Luke 22:20 (NIV) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

BLOOD COVENANTS

STATEMENT: The man and the woman become one flesh. I always wondered how this worked, until recently when I read about a study where scientists discovered that when a woman has sex with a man his DNA becomes forever a part of her DNA.

Not proven! It is true that women can end up with male DNA in their bodies - a study found male cells in 37 out of 59 women’s brains (63%). In 2017 a story went viral after claiming that women absorb and retain DNA from male sexual partners. But there’s no evidence that sex is the cause – it is speculation on the part of some. Women can pick up male DNA from pregnancy with a boy but it can also happen to women without sons. It’s possible they pick up male DNA while still in their mother’s wombs, via a male twin or remnant DNA from an older brother.

BLOOD COVENANTS

COVENANT HEADS

The two participants in the cutting of the covenant are called covenant heads. The covenant remains in effect until both covenant heads die. If one covenant head dies, the other will extend the benefits and blessings of the covenant to the family of the deceased covenant head. In essence, a blood covenant not only joins the two covenant heads together, but also joins the families as well. 1

E.g. the covenants with Noah, Abraham and David are still in place even though they have died.

1 God’s Covenant with You for Your Family - By John Eckhardt

COVENANT MEAL

In the ancient Middle East there was often a covenant meal, celebrating the sealing of the covenant. Hence we read regarding the treaty between Isaac and Abimelech:

Genesis 26:26-31 (NIV) Let us make a treaty with you … Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank.

When Jacob and Laban entered into a covenant we also read of a covenant meal.

Genesis 31:43-54 (NIV) Laban answered Jacob, “… Come now, let’s make a covenant…” So Jacob … offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal.

COVENANT MEAL

The first Passover and all subsequent ones were associated with a covenant meal.

Exodus 12:3-11 (NIV) Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household… That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast… This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.

COVENANT MEAL

Jesus used his last Passover meal with his disciples as a covenant meal to institute the New Covenant in which he would be the Passover lamb - who was symbolically eaten by his disciples as a covenant meal. Thus the bread and the wine have become the symbols or sign of this covenant

Luke 22:20 (NIV) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

THE OATH

As was typical of covenants of parity, the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech was sealed with an oath (Gen 21:31). So too were the covenants between Isaac and Abimelech (26:31), and Jacob and Laban.

Genesis 31:43-53 (NIV) Laban answered Jacob, “… Come now, let’s make a covenant…” So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac.

THE OATH

Jacob insisted on Esau swearing an oath when he covenanted to give him the birthright.

Gen 25:33 (NIV) But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

The oath made the covenant binding.

Hebrews 6:16 (NIV) Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.

THE OATH

The oath was seen as a ratification of the covenant, as evidenced by Joshua’s treaty with the Gibeonites.

Joshua 9:15 (NIV) Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

Jehoida’s covenant with the commanders (2 Kings 11:4) and David’s covenant with Jonathan were also sealed with oaths.

THE OATH

So too God confirms his covenants with an oath.

Abraham tells his servant about God’s oath.

Genesis 24:7 (NIV) “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’”

Moses emphasises to Israel that their covenant is sealed with an oath from God.

Deuteronomy 4:31 (NIV) For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

THE OATH

Deuteronomy 29:12-15 (NIV) You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.

The Davidic covenant was bound with the surety of an irrevocable oath:

Psalm 132:11 (NIV) The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke:” One of your own descendants I will place on your throne…

THE OATH

We too as the “heirs of what was promised” in the New Covenant have our covenant confirmed by God’s oath.

Hebrews 6:17 (NIV) Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.

When Jesus is appointed the high priest of the New Covenant forever, God guarantees this with an oath.

Hebrews 7:20-22 (NIV) And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever.” Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

BIBLICAL COVENANTS

While not all Bible scholars agree on every detail regarding these covenants, it is clear that God has made certain covenants and promises. Some of his promises are to all people, and some are limited to Israel.

Adamic Covenant (includes Edenic covenant)

Noahic Covenant

Abrahamic Covenant

Mosaic Covenant

Palestinian Covenant

Davidic Covenant

New Covenant

What are the seven major covenants in the Bible?

Edenic Covenant

This covenant is general in nature. It included the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and a curse for not doing so (death).

Adamic Covenant

This spoke of a future provision for man’s redemption (Gen 3:15).

I see these as 2 separate covenants as it better fits Dispensational theology.

1 & 2. ADAMIC COVENANT

The Adamic covenant is a two-part statement of God's promise to Adam—first, in the garden during the time of man's innocence, and secondly, after the fall of man. The first part of the promise, sometimes called the Edenic covenant, is found in Genesis 1:26-30 and 2:16-17. It outlines the parameters of Adam’s existence in the garden of Eden. The second part of the promise, which was given after Adam sinned, outlines the parameters of Adam’s existence outside the garden, including the curse found in Genesis 3:16-19. 1

1 https:// www.compellingtruth.org/ Adamic-covenant.html

1 & 2. ADAMIC COVENANT

3. NOAHIC COVENANT

This general covenant was made between God and Noah following the departure of Noah from the ark.

Many see it as a royal grant because God grants man permission to eat meat and promises never to destroy the earth again with water. This is an unconditional promise.

Gen 9:8-11 (NIV) Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

However there are instructions as well (albeit not linked to God’s promise) so I consider it to be a Suzerain-Vassal.

Gen 9:4-6 (NIV) “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”

3. NOAHIC COVENANT

God calls it the “everlasting covenant.”

Gen 9:16 (NIV) “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

God rebukes the inhabitant of the earth for breaking it. (How can you break an unconditional covenant?)

Isa 24:5 (NIV) “The earth is defiled by its people; they have … broken the everlasting covenant.”

He clearly indicates that the breach carries a penalty.

Isa 24:6 (NIV) “Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

3. NOAHIC COVENANT

4. ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

This unconditional covenant is God’s promised blessing upon Abraham. The covenant also promised blessing to those who blessed Abraham and cursing to those who cursed him. It included:

The promise of land.

The promise of descendants.

The promise of blessing and redemption. God promised to bless Abraham and the families of the earth through him.

5. MOSAIC COVENANT

Also called the Mosaic Covenant (Old Covenant of Law), this is the conditional covenant, made between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai (Ex 19-24).

The pattern of the covenant is very similar to other ancient covenants of that time because it is between a sovereign king (God) and his people or subjects (Israel).

God promised the Israelites a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. Much of the OT chronicles the fulfilment of this cycle of judgement for sin and later blessing when God’s people repented.

PALESTINIAN COVENANT

Some argue that Deuteronomy 30:1-9 contains a new and separate covenant from the one offered through Moses, a covenant commonly called the Palestinian Covenant. The name comes from the language in Deuteronomy, where God promises Israel their land as an everlasting inheritance.

This view is less popular than it once was. In my view, Deuteronomy 30 does not offer a distinct covenant from those given before. The language contains none of the characteristic covenant signs and language

Joshua also assembled the tribes at Shechem to call Israel to a renewal of the covenant. It was his final official act as the Lord's servant, mediator of the Lord's rule over his people. In this he followed the example of Moses, whose final official act was also a call to covenant renewal--of which Deuteronomy is the preserved document.

PALESTINIAN COVENANT

Scripture never refer to the promises in Deuteronomy 30 as a distinct covenant by name.

A single covenant better fits Dispensational theology.

Using the term “Palestine” to refer to Israel is unscriptural and was intended to be offensive to Jews.

Shortly before or after the Jewish revolt against Rome by Bar Kokhba’s (132–135 AD), the Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. He also changed the name of the Judea province - it was merged it with Roman Syria to form Syria Palaestina, spitefully named after the age-old enemies of Israel – the Philistines. Both of these actions appear to be attempts to remove the relationship of the Jewish people to the region.

6. DAVIDIC COVENANT

This covenant refers to God’s promises to David through Nathan the prophet. God promises David that the Messiah (Jesus) would come from the lineage of David and would establish a kingdom that would endure forever. The covenant is unconditional because God does not place any conditions of obedience upon its fulfilment. The surety of the promises made rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not rely on obedience of David or anyone else.

Jesus is called the Son of David and is the fulfilment of this covenant. Gabriel says to Mary about Jesus, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

7. First predicted by Jeremiah.

Jer 31:31-34 (NIV) “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

7. NEW COVENANT

This was fulfilled in our covenant of grace.

Heb 8:8-12 (NIV) But God … said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant… This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time … I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

7. NEW COVENANT

SUPERSEDED

The conditions of the contract can only be legally changed by consent of both parties, or by the existence of a more recent contract, which supersedes the previous one.

The conditions of a contract can only be legally changed by the existence of a more recent contract, which supersedes the previous one.

Heb 8:13 (NIV) By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

The New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant.

Heb 8:6 (NIV) But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

NEW TESTAMENT

Heb 12:22-24 (NIV) But you have come … to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The Old Covenant was lacking.

Heb 8:7 (NIV) For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.

It could not impart life.

2 Cor 3:6 (NIV) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The lack was not on God’s part.

Heb 8:8 (NIV) But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel …

The Old Covenant (Law) was inadequate in that mankind is sinful and unable to keep the conditions of the covenant.

Rom 7:10-11 (NIV) I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

What then was the purpose of God giving such a covenant?

NEW TESTAMENT

It was to make us aware that we are sinners.

Rom 7:7 (NIV) What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Although we cannot keep the Law, it points us to Christ by making us realise that we need a Saviour.

Gal 3:24 (NASB) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

(KJV) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

NEW TESTAMENT

Our Saviour’s blood paid for our sins and for the sins of those in the Old Covenant.

Heb 9:12-15 (NIV) He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption … How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

NEW TESTAMENT

NEW COVENANT

Among Christians, there are significant differences on the question of membership in the New Covenant. These differences can be so serious that they form a principal reason for division i.e., denominationalism. Christian denominations exist because of their answer to this question. The first major split is between those who believe that only believers are members of the New Covenant, and (reflecting the idea of the Jewish covenants as national or community covenants) those who believe that believers and their children are members of the New Covenant. These differences give rise to different views on whether children may be baptised: the credobaptist view and the paedobaptist view. Secondarily, there are differences among paedobaptists as to the nature of the membership of children in the covenant. 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ New_Covenant

A dispensation can be defined as a period during which God deals with His people in a particular manner. Each one is ushered in by a distinct covenant and terminated by a judgement. These dispensational covenants are as follows:

The Age of Innocence was ushered in by the Edenic covenant and ended with the judgement of man and the serpent.

The Age of Conscience commenced with the Adamic covenant and ended with the judgement of the Deluge (flood).

The Age of Human Government commenced with the Noachic covenant and ended with the judgement at Babel.

DISPENSATIONAL COVENANTS

The Age of Patriarchal Rule started with the Abrahamic covenant and ended with the judgement of the 10 plagues in Egypt. While normally the covenant also ended with the dispensation, in this case Scripture teaches that the Abrahamic covenant didn’t cease when the newer Mosaic covenant was put in place (see next section for elaboration).

The Age of Law began with the Mosaic covenant and ended with the judgement of man’s sin through Jesus’ crucifixion.

The present Age of Grace began with the New Covenant in Christ and will end with the judgement of the tribulation.

DISPENSATIONAL COVENANTS

DISPENSATIONAL COVENANTS

Dispensation

Covenant started with

Judgement ended with

Innocence

Edenic covenant

Judgement of serpent and man

Conscience

Adamic covenant

The flood

Human Government

Noachic covenant

The tower of Babel

Patriarchal Dispensation

Abrahamic covenant

The 10 plagues

The Law

Old (Mosaic) covenant

The crucifixion

Grace

New covenant in Christ (fulfilment of Old and Davidic covenants)

The tribulation

Millennium

Abrahamic and Davidic covenants fulfilled

The Great White Throne judgement

STATEMENT: Many Christians interpret this to mean that God does whatever He wants and is not subject to anyone or anything because He is sovereign. God can either make you sick or heal you depending on what He wants to do. Since God is not bound to a covenant, He can afflict you with cancer to teach you piety, holiness or some hidden purpose. This actually reflects the belief of a majority of professing Christians. This understanding produces passive faith. This type of faith is a counterfeit, which means it may look spiritual and pious but it isn't the real thing. Someone who prays with this type of faith might say something like... it might not be God's will to heal me. 

SOVEREIGNTY

 God might want me sick so that He can make me more dependent on Him, or It might not be in God's wisdom for Him to give me what I ask for, or God, please heal me if it be Thy will. These kinds of prayers are caused by a lack of knowledge about our covenant with God. To them, to take any other position on God's sovereignty is to call His authority into question, but does it really?

I disagree! How can subjecting our prayer requests to the will of God be unscriptural when that is was Jesus himself did?

Luke 22:42 (NIV) “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

SOVEREIGNTY

Furthermore we are instructed to do the same.

James 4:13-16 (NIV) Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

Peter makes it clear that sometimes it is God’s will for us to suffer, e.g. Jesus.

1 Pet 3:17 (NIV) For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

SOVEREIGNTY

The writer of Hebrews says that God sometimes uses suffering as a form of discipline for his children.

Heb 12:7-11 (NIV) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

SOVEREIGNTY

We need faith when we ask for things in prayer.

Matt 21:21-22 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

We also need to be persistent.

Luke 18:1,7 (NIV) Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up … And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

SOVEREIGNTY

But is faith and persistence all it takes?

A contract must be viewed in its entirety. Covenants have conditions attached – they are not a blank cheque.

John 15:7 (NIV) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16-17 (NIV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

God meets our need – not our greed. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11)

SOVEREIGNTY

As a father, God only gives good gifts.

Matt 7:7-11 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

E.g. if child asks for matches and petrol to play with, would you give it to them? We need to ask for good things.

SOVEREIGNTY

Furthermore in Luke, Jesus links that teaching specifically to asking for the Holy Spirit.

Luke 11:9-13 (NIV) “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

SOVEREIGNTY

We need to ask in Jesus’ name.

John 16:23-24 (NIV) In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

This does not simply mean saying “in the name of Jesus” at the end of your prayer. It means asking for the things with the authority of Jesus but also asking for things that Jesus would have asked for (e.g. Jacob and Esau).

SOVEREIGNTY

David said in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Is God bound (by covenant) to give us something that is against his sovereign will? We need to read the full contract not just certain clauses out of context.

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

James 4:3 (NIV) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

SOVEREIGNTY

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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