Covenants

For almost 2000 years, millions have confessed that the Bible is the written Word of God. The Bible itself confirms this testimony. Although written by over 40 different authors over a period of about 1500 years, the Bible presents a unified worldview in its doctrines.

Although Christians have agreed, there is unity in the doctrines of the Bible, they have not and do not agree on the central theme of the Bible. There are those who claim the central theme of the Bible is redemption. We cannot overlook the fact redemption is one of the themes of the Bible. The Bible tells us how man fell into sin and how God in His grace set into motion a predetermined plan of redemption. The Bible reveals God’s love for sinful men and the death of Jesus to redeem man (John 3:16). The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit was sent into the world to apply Jesus’ redemptive work to man (Romans 8:1-14). At the end of history, we will see the world redeemed and the full manifestation of God’s glory (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).

For a look at each individual covenant click the links below.  The overview of covenants continues below.

Noahic Covenant Abrahamic Covenant
Mosaic Covenant Deuteronomic Covenant
Davidic Covenant New Covenant

Others have suggested that the central theme of the Bible is Christ Himself. This is true since Christ is the Creator of the world and the Word of God incarnated (John 1:1-3). The gospel message centers on the person of Christ as the Savior of the world. He is prefigured in types, and predicted in prophecy (Luke 24:25-27).

Others have suggested the covenants are the central theme in the Bible. We cannot deny the covenants are one of the main themes of the Bible. We are told in the Bible of God’s covenants with Adam and Christ (Romans 5:12 ff.), how Adam disobeyed God and brought the human race, which he represented, into sin and judgment. Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David were all given covenantal promises that represented a renewal of the covenant with Adam and the promise of a better covenant to come. That better covenant, of course, is the new covenant in Christ, our new representative, to succeed where Adam had failed. By His death on the cross, He redeemed us from sin and judgment. In His resurrection, we are given life.

Like redemption, the covenants are definitely a unifying theme of the Bible, but it also seems to be inadequate to bring together the full range of Biblical revelation. The theme redemption needs a foundation. In the covenants, we find a theme that includes every major Biblical doctrine and gives proper honor to Christ as the Creator and Savior.

The Book of Genesis begins with the creation of the heavens and earth, and often-overlooked fact, the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Before the reason for the establishing of the kingdom of God on earth, Adam rebelled against God and handed the physical realm of the kingdom of God over to Satan. The rest of the Bible tells how God will restore the kingdom to Himself and bring man back into the kingdom of God and the glory that God originally designed for him. History is the story of God’s war against Satan. God defeats Satan and reconstructs His kingdom through Christ, bringing to pass His original purpose for the creation.

The Gospel that Christ preached was the Gospel of the kingdom of God, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). The Apostle Paul, preached the message of the kingdom, “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31). The Revelation of Jesus Christ to His servant John reveals the everlasting establishment of God’s kingdom: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15; cf. 1:9; 12:10). In Revelation chapters 21-22 John describes the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the creation and the final manifestation of the kingdom of God.

Christ brings in the kingdom of God, fulfilling the promises made to Abraham and David, accomplishing all that God had designed for man in the original creation. Messiah defeats Satan’s kingdom and establishes the everlasting kingdom given to Him by the Ancient of Days.

When scholars refer to the kingdom of God as a covenantal kingdom, they base the reference on the fact that the covenant defines God’s relationship with man. However, it is important we understand what a covenant is because Biblical scholars often claim a covenant is essentially the same as a contract. This is not true. A covenant is not a contractual type of relationship that remains only so long as the two parties provide some sort of mutual benefit. The Biblical essence of a covenant is God’s love for His people, the basis for His calling them. However, love requires a response. Therefore, God demands that the children of Israel also love Him. A covenant is a commitment of love. Since a covenant creates a relationship different from the mutual profit-seeking relationship of a contract, the establishment and sealing of a covenant generally requires an oath-taking ceremony. When one takes an oath, he promises to preserve the covenantal relationship and seals the promise with words that call a curse upon himself if he should fail to keep his promise. The curse of the covenant is death.

Many Christians may not realize that a curse is part of the traditional Christian wedding vow. “Till death do us part” means “until death,” but it includes the idea that nothing but death can end the covenant, implying the curse of death on the one who is disloyal to the oath. Another aspect of the traditional wedding vow illustrates the kind of commitment demanded in a covenant. For example, we say “in sickness and health,” and “for better or worse,” which witness to the fact that even if the relationship turns out to be “unprofitable” for us, we will not abandon our partner because of economic or other hardships. Marital love is self-sacrificial. There is no basis for dissolving the relationship except when one of those who took the vow betrays it and undermines the whole relationship. Sickness, poverty, or an unpleasant personality cannot undo the oath. In marriage, each person takes an oath to give himself or herself sacrificially to the other, without thought of personal profit.

The wedding illustration is especially appropriate, because God’s relationship with Israel is compared to the relationship of husband to wife. Christ’s relationship to the church is compared to the relationship of husband and wife. So long as Israel is faithful to the love of the covenant, and “faithful” does not mean sinless perfection, God will never leave her or forsake her.

However, it is not in God’s relationship with Israel that we see the full meaning of love, for the Bible does not reveal the full meaning of covenantal love until the coming of Christ. It is in the relationship between Christ and the Father, that we first see that covenantal love is the eternal fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit (John 17:24, 26).

In the relationship of Christ and the Father, we understand that John’s words “God is love” because the Father, Son, and Spirit share an everlasting love for one another. Each of the three Persons of the Trinity wholly devotes Himself to bless and glorify the other.

God created the heavens and earth to manifest His glory (Psalm 8, 19). When God appointed Adam and Eve as rulers over the works of His creation their rule was to be based upon love for God and one another. They were to guard the created world and take care of it so that it would bear fruit for God’s glory. The fall of man was a rejection of God’s love and a rejection of the way of love among men. The violence of the pre-flood world is the climax of the rebellion of the fall and the logical outcome of the rejection of God’s love.

The purpose of God’s plan of redemption is to restore man’s fellowship with His Creator. The created world, too, must be restored to its original purpose of revealing God’s glory. The kingdom of righteousness and love must come to historical realization in order that Satan’s lie and the temptation in the Garden may be utterly defeated to the glory of God. Redemption finds its fulfillment in the kingdom of God. God has poured out His covenantal love upon us in Jesus Christ in order that through faith in Him we may be brought into an everlasting fellowship of love.

The central theme of the Bible, reveals the nature of the Triune God as a God of love who has called man into a fellowship of love with Himself.

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