CHRIST, THE LAW AND THE COVENANTS Lesson 10 for June 7, 2014
WHAT IS A COVENANT? A covenant is an agreement between two parties. It is based on promises made by either one or by both parties. There are two methods by which a covenant can operate: • Unilateral. One party stipulates the terms, and the other party just participates or is benefited. • Sabbath is a unilateral covenant (Genesis 2:3). We can individually choose to participate. • We already benefit from the covenant after the Flood God promised to never destroy the earth with water again. • Bilateral. Both parties to the covenant agree to the terms of the relationship and make mutual promises.
GOD’S COVENANT WITH NOAH “And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:12-15) How are the sign and the covenant related? Signs are reminders of the covenant, so the parties remember the terms . When we see the rainbow, we remember that God covenanted that He will never again destroy the earth with water. When Laban and Jacob saw the pillar of Galeed(Genesis31:44-53), they remembered the terms of their covenant.
BILATERAL COVENANTS “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) God prepared an eternal covenant with human race “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), just in case we sinned. God explained that love covenant to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15). It was re-introduced several times in our history: God’s covenant with Abraham. God’s covenant with Israel on Sinai. Jesus’ new covenant with us. This is God’s eternal covenant: He offers us salvation, and we are called to just accept the terms.
GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM “And 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. Also 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.” (Genesis 17:7-8)
GOD’S COVENANT WITH ISRAEL “So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)
GOD’S COVENANT WITH ISRAEL “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.” (Galatians 3:17) • On Sinai, the eternal covenant God introduced to Abraham 430 years before became tangible through the sanctuary and the sacrifices. Many of the laws (including the 10 commandments) were already kept before Sinai (Gen. 7:2; Gen. 26:5) This is usually known as the “old covenant.”
“If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God’s law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses.” E.G.W. (Patriarchs and Prophets, cp. 32, pg. 364)
THE NEW COVENANT “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15) The old and the new covenant are too similar to be considered different covenants. What’s the difference between both covenants? Which terms from the old covenant are annulled in the new one? Which ones are kept? Since the covenant was made before the foundation of the world, then nothing must be annulled. The covenant has just been transformed by Jesus’ death at the cross.
COVENANT BENEFITS “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6) When we take up our part of the covenant, we are benefit from living a life according to its law. Which are the covenant benefits? • Forgiveness of sins (Acts 26:18) • Continuous spiritual renewal (2Co. 4:16-18) • The solid promise of eternal life (Jn. 5:24; 1Jn. 5:11-13) • Living as if we are already sitting in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6)