Saturday, 14 January 2012

Understanding Covenant is important for several reasons:

1) Introduction
2) Understanding Covenant is important for several reasons:
3) The Adamic Covenant The Covenant of Commencement

4) The Noahic Covenant? Covenant of Preservation
5) The Covenant with Abraham: an unconditional covenant
6) The Covenant with Moses

7) The Covenant with David: an unconditional covenant

8) The Palestinian Covenant

9) The New Covenant


          It was God who started to make a covenant with man. He wanted to have a relation with him under certain conditions. God executed his promises and  was honest in spite of our dishonesty. The covenant of God with man was an everlasting one. The first covenant that God made was in the days of Noah, before and after the deluge. The condition that God stipulated was that man should leave the wicked world that was condemned to death and annihilation, and enter into the ark. God would grant man life, security, peace and care. Noah and his  sons joined that covenant, and thus they gained God's blessing. The second covenant was made between God and the great patriarch. The blessing as is seen in Deuteronomy 28, is for those who abide by the words of God, and the punishment is for those who disobey them. This covenant, which God gave to Moses, was sprinkled with blood and, for the first time, it was a written covenant for all people, including blessings and curses. Moses took the Book of the Covenant and read to the people saying: "All that God said shall he obeyed, " then Moses took some of the blood and said, “this is the blood of the covenant which God made with you about all these sayings. "A covenant is a contract or agreement between two or more parties.  Covenant is how God has chosen to communicate to us, to redeem us, and to guarantee us eternal life in Jesus.  These truths, revealed in the Bible, are the basis of Christianity.  The Bible is a covenant document.  The Old and New Testaments are really Old and New Covenants.  The word "testament" is Latin for Covenant.
There is a pattern to the covenants found in the Bible.  Basically, it is as follows.  The initiating party describes himself and what He has done, then there is a list of obligations between the two (or more) parties.  What follows is the section dealing with rewards and punishments that govern the keeping and breaking of the covenant.  The Ten Commandments fit this pattern and are a covenant

Understanding Covenant is important for several reasons:
1.      We learn that God deals with Man covenant ally.
2.      Since a Covenant is an agreement, it is a promise made by God.  Since, we can rely on God's word for eternity, we can take great comfort in His covenant promising us eternal life in His Son.
3.      It helps us to see the Bible as a covenant document.  The Old and New Testaments are Old and New Covenants.
4.      With Covenant understood as a framework through which the Bible was written we can better understand it, God’s dealings with us through it, and our responsibilities to God as well as His to us.
We can better understand the symbols used by God in covenant ratification: The Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
The Ten Commandments constituted a covenant between God and the people. They were written on two tablets that were called the `tablets of the covenant' and these were put into a tabernacle, also called the `tabernacle of
the covenant.' The tabernacle of the covenant was a symbol for the presence of God with his people. The observance of the commandments meant that God was their God and that they were his people. According to this covenant, God gave them the commandments to obey, and in return, He would guard and bless them. All the commandments of God and all the scriptures were a covenant. This is why the old scriptures have been called `the Old Testament' and the scriptures after the coming of Christ are called `the New Testament. The Holy Bible exemplifies a covenant between us and God, and we have become believers on the ground of our abiding by all the commandments included in it. Whenever you see the Holy Bible, you should remember that there is a covenant between you and God. As long as we are the children of God, ands long as we are believers, we are bound by this covenant. We have to observe all the rules in that book and say, as our fathers have said before, “We obey all the commandments of God. " It is a covenant that is sprinkled with blood. Thus, Saint Paul the apostle says of the Lord Christ that, "He is the mediator of a better covenant which wa established upon better promises," and they are really better promises. The Promised Land in the Old Testament is a
symbol of the Land of the Living in the New Testament. The fact that it is overflowing with milk and honey is a symbol of what no eye has seen, near has heard of, and of what has never occurred to the mind of any human being. The abundance of posterity symbolizes the spread of faith and the increase of the number of believers, and the extent of age symboliseseternity.There is another covenant that we establish with God through baptism. During baptism, we repudiate Satan and all his evil deeds, his tricks, thoughts and all his hosts and say to him openly, `I renounce you; I renounce you; I renounce you.’ Do we still renounce the devil and all his hosts? Besides this renouncement, during baptism we make a vow to believe in God and proceed in his ways, and in the new life in which we have worn Christ. There is another covenant that we keep with God by partaking in the Eucharist and in repentance. In connection with Communion, God says tours, "Each time you eat from this bread and drink from this cup you preachy death, acknowledge my resurrection and remember me until I come. "What indicates that the Eucharist is a covenant between us and God is that Maundy Thursday, the day on which God made the covenant with his disciples and gave them His Flesh and His Blood, is called by the Church `Covenant Thursday.' We celebrate this day, keeping in our memory covenant that we pledge with God each time we take part in the Eucharist. We also enter into a covenant with God whenever we make a vow. We often undergo pressure in case of sickness, adversity, demands or desires, and make vows beyond our capacity and liability of execution, and later, we try to do away with those vows or try to change or delay them, forgetting the scripture which says, "You had better not make vows at all, rather than make vows and not execute them. "A covenant with God should be regarded with seriousness and not obligation. We should know with whom we are making an agreement. It is with God, the Creator, the Infinite, the Imperceptible, the God of gods. We should also know about the punishment for those who break the covenant. Saint Paul the apostle explained this punishment in his message to the Hebrews, saying, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye; shall he bethought worthy, who has trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and who hath done despite unto the spirit of grace? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. " (Hebrews 10:29-30)All the covenants of God with the fathers are covenants with us personally. In this connection, the Prophet Moses says, "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. "(Deuteronomy 5:2 & 3)Our covenants with God are sprinkled with blood and approved with the Blood of Christ. This is why Saint Paul says about the consecration of the believer that with the blood of the covenant with which he has been consecrated, "Our sins are obliterated at baptism by the Blood of Christ, “and such is the case in the sacrament of Confession and the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we take the Blood of Christ, which purifies everything. How beautiful is the statement of the Prophet David, "O God, bless the covenants of my mouth." Therefore we ask God to give us the power of execution. We pray to God to grant us His power so as to be honest towards Him.

THE ADAMIC COVENANT The Covenant of Commencement
Under the Edenic Covenant man was put on probation to test his commitment to the terms of the covenant.  The one prohibition to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil constituted the test of faith and obedience (Genesis 2:16,17).  The test was occasioned by God's permitting the serpent's entrance into the Garden.  The temptation to break the covenant came from Satan as he attacked the terms of the covenant.  His aim was to breathe covenantal relationship between the Creator and the creature by deceiving man into violating the covenant.  He knew this would rob man of the blessings and put him under the curses of the covenant.  Satan's attack was upon the covenantal God and the covenantal man, but his approach was to attack the covenantal language.  Genesis 3:1-6 records the serpent's tempting of the woman and their progressive undermining of the words of the covenant. Covenant theology first sees a covenant of works administered with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Upon Adam's failure, God established the covenant of grace in the promised seed, and shows his redeeming care in clothing Adam and Eve in garments of skin — perhaps picturing the first instance of animal sacrifice. The specific covenants after the fall of Adam are seen as administered under the overarching theological covenant of grace. This was a covenant made between God and Adam where Adam would have everlasting life based upon obedience to God. This apparently was possible since Adam did not have a sin nature.
A.    "And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’ God entered into a covenant with Adam. The promise connected to that covenant was life.  The condition was perfect obedience.  Its penalty was death

The Noahic Covenant? Covenant of Preservation
The Noahic Covenant is a promise that God made to all mankind as well as to all the creatures that he would not destroy the world until his work of saving a people was accomplished. When was the Noahic Covenant established? The first mention of the Noahic Covenant is in Genesis 6:18. God introduces the Noahic Covenant before the flood but then explains it fully after the flood. Genesis 6:17-22In order for God’s plan of salvation to be accomplished Noah and his family had to be preserved through the flood.  It does seem that the Noahic Covenant was established right after Noah came off the ark. As soon as he sacrifice to the Lord God spoke to him and gave him the promise of the Noahic Covenant. Genesis 8:20-22The Noahic Covenant is in full force until the 2ndComing. 2 Peter 3:7 following the creation of man. Genesis 1:28The historical context of both commands seems to have been tied to the fact that the earth needed to be populated. The Relationship between Man and animal After the flood the relationship between men and animals changes. Now our God has put a fear and dread of man on all the animals. This does not mean that animals cannot be tamed. What it does mean is that animals are not naturally inclined to be attracted to men. Meat is PUT on the Menu When man was created green plants were given to mankind to eat. Genesis 1:30After the flood meat of animals is given to mankind to eat. Sin coming into the world at the Fall has nothing to do with the change in God’s menu for the diet of mankind. Eating of Blood is Forbidden We cannot be sure that this command was a part of the Noahic Covenant. The Noahic Covenant seems to be tied to preserving the earth. Blood is a symbol of the life of the individual and therefore it cannot be eaten.  This command does not seem to be tied to a specific era or covenant. Therefore it applies to the end of the age. Capital Punishment We are not to take someone else’s life because man is made in the image of God and therefore life is very valuable to God. Deterrence is not mentioned as a reason for having capital punishment.  The lawful taking of life is not under discussion here but murder. There are commands in the Old Covenant era to kill others. 1 Samuel 15:1-11In the New Covenant era the government has the authority to kill. Romans 13:1-7Sign of the Covenant The rainbow was the designated sign by God that the Noahic Covenant is still in effect. We as believers have no fear that the earth will be prematurely destroyed. This covenant was God’s promise to Noah to never again destroy the world with a flood.  God gave the rainbow as a sign."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 cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."  And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  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."  So God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth’"

The Covenant with Abraham: an unconditional covenant
The actual Abraham Covenant is found in .The ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. The only time that both parties of a covenant would pass between the pieces of animals was when the fulfillment of the covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments. Concerning the significance of God alone moving between the halves of the animals, it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case it is doubtless to be explained by the fact that the covenant is principally a promise by God. He is the one who binds Himself. God caused a sleep to fall upon Abraham so that he would not be able to pass between the two halves of the animals. Fulfillment of the covenant fell to God alone. God promised a land and descendants to Abraham, who was commanded to "keep" the covenant) and was given circumcision as the sign On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates" 1) The Abraham Covenant is described in and is an unconditional covenant. There are no conditions attached to it (no “if” clauses, suggesting its fulfillment is dependent on man). (2) It is also a literal covenant in which the promises should be understood literally. The land that is promised should be understood in its literal or normal interpretation—it is not a figure of heaven. (3) It is also an everlasting covenant. The promises that God made to Israel are eternal. There are Three Main features to the Abrahamic covenant
 1.)The promise of land God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans to a land that He would give him  This promise is reiterated where it is confirmed by a shoe covenant; its dimensions are given in  (precluding any notion of this being fulfilled in heaven). The land aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant is also expanded in, which is the 
2)The promise of descendants). God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him. Abraham, who was 75 years old and childless), was promised many descendants. This promise is amplified where God promised that nations and kings would descend from the aged patriarch. This promise (which is expanded in the ) would eventuate in the Davidic throne with Messiah’s kingdom rule over the Hebrew people.
3.) The promise of blessing and redemption. God promised to bless Abraham and the families of the earth through him. This promise is amplified in the ; cf.  anticipates the forgiveness of sin. The unconditional and eternal nature of the covenant is seen in that the covenant is reaffirmed to Isaac he “I will” promises suggest the unconditional aspect of the covenant. The covenant is further confirmed to Jacob). It is noteworthy that God reaffirmed these promises amid the sins of the patriarchs, which fact further emphasizes the unconditional nature of the Abraham Covenant.

The Covenant with Moses
In the giving of the Law, the nation of Israel was constituted a holy nation and given stipulations to follow to ensure fellowship with God.  The covenant was ratified by a covenant sacrifice and the sprinkling of).
 "Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.  He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD.  6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar.  7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people.  They responded, ‘We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.’  8 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’"

The Covenant with David: an unconditional covenant
God gave a promise to David that his descendants should have an everlasting kingdom and be known as his sons."You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations’") It was through the descendants of David that Jesus was born. The Davidic Covenant refers to God’s promises to David through Nathan the prophet and is found in 2 Samuel 7 and later summarized in  and . This is an unconditional covenant made between God and David through which God promises David and Israel that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would come from the lineage of David and the tribe of Judah and would establish a kingdom that would endure forever The Davidic Covenant is unconditional because God does not place any conditions of obedience upon its fulfillment. The surety of the promises made rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not depend at all on David or Israel’s obedience. The Davidic Covenant centers on several key promises that are made to David. 1) God reaffirms the promise of the land that He made in the first two covenants with Israel (the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants). This promise is seen in , “Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously.” 2) God promises that David’s descendant or “seed” will succeed him as king of Israel and that David’s throne will be established forever. This promise is seen in , "I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” This is a reference to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The Palestinian Covenant
The Palestinian Covenant is recorded in  and and was made between God and Israel right before Moses died and Israel entered the Promised Land. This covenant came after the Mosaic Covenant and after Israel had wandered in the wilderness for forty years until the generation that had refused to enter the Promised Land had passed away. God made this covenant with Israel while they were in Moab waiting to go into the Promised Land, and the covenant would serve this new generation of Israelites as a reminder of their special covenant relationship with God.
The Palestinian Covenant has many similarities to the Mosaic Covenant made at Mount Sinai but is a separate and distinct covenant as clearly seen in  “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.” Before making this covenant with Israel, God reminded them that if they obeyed the Mosaic Law, He would bless the nation abundantly and warned them that disobedience to the Law would result in His cursing the nation Besides the promises that God would bless them if they obeyed His commandments and curse them if they disobeyed, the Palestinian Covenant also contains some special promises to Israel that many believe will not be completely fulfilled until the millennial reign of Christ. First, God promised to gather the scattered Israelites from all over the world and to bring them back into the land He had promised to their ancestors). Second, God promised to regenerate the Israelites of that time and their descendants by circumcising their hearts so that they would love Him. Third, God promised to judge Israel’s enemies, and, fourth, He promised that the Israelites would obey God and that God would prosper them in their obedience). While some might see these promises being fulfilled when Israel was returned from captivity in Babylon at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, there seem to be some aspects of this that have not been fully realized yet. For example, the promised restoration of Israel to the land would not happen until all the blessings and curses promised them were fulfilled we know that Israel as a nation rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah and was once again cursed and cut off from the land when the Romans conquered Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Second, we see that one of the promises in this covenant was that God would circumcise their) so that they and their descendents would obey Him These same promises are repeated in  and and are part of the blessings and promises of the New Covenant. Also, it seems that the final or ultimate restoration of Israel to the land and to an everlasting relationship with God is what Paul is looking forward to in  when he says that “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and thus all Israel will be saved.”The Palestinian Covenant also serves to reinforce the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that God would establish Israel as His chosen people). Even though God set before Israel the promise of His blessings for obedience and His curses for disobedience, He knew full well they would turn from Him and His covenant and turn to idols. This is why He also promised to one day restore them to the land and have compassion on them. Therefore, the ultimate outcome of this covenant does not depend on Israel and its obedience, but instead it depends on God and His faithfulness. The Palestinian Covenant focuses on what God is going to do more than what Israel is supposed to do. While Israel’s prosperity is closely tied to her obedience to God’s commands, and they will still be punished for their disobedience to God, there is coming a day when God will return them to the land (the full extent of the land as outlined in ), and they will possess it, and God will bless them forever. At that time God will circumcise their hearts so they will obey Him This covenant is again reaffirming the Abrahamic Covenant in that someday the seed of Abraham will possess the Promised Land forever. Unlike the Mosaic Covenant whose promises are conditional upon Israel’s obedience to the Law, ultimate fulfillment of the promises of the Palestinian Covenant are not dependent upon Israel’s obedience. Instead, the Palestinian Covenant is an unconditional, eternal covenant) because it is a part of the Abrahamic Covenant and an amplification of it.

The New Covenant
This is the new covenant of the Messianic age where the Law of God would be written upon the hearts of men."The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah... This is the covenant I will make with the house 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" It was promised in Eden “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" It was proclaimed to Abraham “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you").It was fulfilled in Christ “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.  He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us -- to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.  And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace"

 The standard description of covenant theology views the  of God's dealings with mankind in all of history, from  to , under the framework of three overarching theological covenants — the covenants of redemption, of works, and of grace. These three covenants are called theological because they are not explicitly presented as such in the  but are thought to be theologically implicit, describing and summarizing the wealth of Scriptural data. systems of thought, covenant theology is not merely treated as a point of doctrine, neither is it treated as a central . Rather, Covenant is viewed as the structure by which the biblical text organizes itself.
As a framework for biblical interpretation, covenant theology stands in contrast to  in regard to the relationship between the  with national Israel and the  in . That such a framework exists appears to be, at least, feasible since, from the earliest time of the Church, the Jewish Bible has been known as the Old Testament (or Covenant) in contrast to the  which has been known as the New Testament (or Covenant). Regarding the theological status of modern people, covenant theology is often referred to as "," or "replacement theology" by its detractors, due to the perception that it teaches that God has abandoned the promises made to the Jews and and has replaced the Jews with Christians as his  in the earth. Covenant theologians deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the , who, not a separate replacement entity.

1) . A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace. Facsimile reprint: Dingwall, Peter and Rachel Reynolds (2006), 
2) God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Books (2000). Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview. Overland Park: Two Age. 
3) Covenant Theology. In Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 4. Carlisle, PA (1998)
4). A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Nashville: Nelson.  Robertson, O. Palmer (1981). Christ of the Covenants. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. 
5) Robertson, O. Palmer (2000). The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed
6) Covenant Theology. In L. A. Loetscher (Ed.), The New Schiff-Herzog Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Baker. .
7) "The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology." In R. B. Gaffin, Jr. (Ed.), Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Gerhard’s Vos. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. 
 8) The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, 2 vols. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. .Malone, Fred (2003). 

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