Sunday, December 18, 2011

6 Covenants



Yesterday I wrote about covenants and why they are important to understanding God and His relationship with us. Today I want to write about 6 major covenants and their signs. I think understanding God's plan as it is laid out for us in scripture is very beneficial to understanding our duty as Christians.

First I'd like to list the people involved in those six covenants: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus the Christ.

The Covenant with Adam

The covenant of Adam was one of a marital bond. God told them to be fruitful and multiply. He created a covenant with the mother and father of the entire human race, one that was fulfilled by Christ. In the covenant bond God declared that there would be enmity between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the Serpent. Genesis 3:15. The sign of this covenant was the Sabbath day. For the very first full day of mans existence was spent in the Sabbath.

The other thing to notice is that Adam fulfilled a covenant role. He was the Husband of the covenant under the form of a marriage. We'll talk about the role and form of each of the major covenant men as we go through, they are important to note.

The Noahic Covenant

The covenant between God and Noah occurs after the flood. The only people left on the planet alive are Noah and his family. God promises never to flood the world again to destroy it and then gives the seven laws of Noah (Genesis 9) God declares that the sign of the covenant will be the bow he has placed in the sky after a storm (the rainbow).

Now we see that Noah fulfilled a covenant role as well. He was the father of the family the covenant was made with, the form of the covenant now goes from marriage to household. God made his first covenant with a man and woman, now he makes it with an extended family.

The Abrahmic Covenant

Abraham was called out of his native land and brought with him some of his extended family, his household and servants. We are unsure as to how many people this tribal chieftain brought with him but the numbers were likely in the hundreds at least, but could easily have numbered in the thousands. When God made his covenant with Abraham it included ALL of them. All men, servants included were to be bound by the covenant. (Genesis 17:9-14)

Now we see that we have another covenant where Abraham fulfilled a covenant role. He was the chieftain of a tribe, the form of the covenant now goes from a household to a tribe! We are starting to see a pattern here, where God is starting to include more and more people in his covenant promises.

The Covenant with Moses

Then comes Mount Sinai. God makes a covenant with a people. He declares his words from the mountain top and after hearing just the ten commandments, the people don't want to hear his voice anymore. They are afraid of God. They ask Moses instead to listen to God and then come and tell them the rest of it. So Moses does so. In the end Moses writes down everything God has commanded and it's 612 different commands. The people agree, this 'we will do.' (Exodus 19:8) The sign of this covenant was the passover meal.

Here we see that God has now made a covenant with a nation! 12 tribes have now become a single nation under the 'constitution' of the law of Moses! It's no longer just the family, or just the tribe.. but the entire nation of Israel! Moses again fulfills a role in the covenant, the role of judge.

The Davidic Covenant

The Davidic covenant established a kingdom. This created a situation in which people under the jurisdiction of the king would be coming to visit, to pay taxes etc. This exposed many nations to the ways of the Lord God, and even shows us that God showed himself to the Gentiles and they learned to worship the one true God. God's plan is in motion, and has already changed from one marriage, to a tribe, to a nation to a Kingdom!

God promised a throne that would last forever through David's 'son' and the sign of this covenant is the throne of David! David's role was king.

The New Covenant

The final covenant, the one that fulfilled all others and formed a new and everlasting covenant is the covenant formed by Jesus Christ. Though Jesus Christ salvation was extended to all nations, all peoples, every race and creed! God extended his covenant promises beginning with the just a single man and woman, to include the entire human race! (It was his plan from the beginning!) He fulfilled the covenant promise of the Sabbath by becoming Lord of the Sabbath, and becoming a means of eternal rest and emulation of God. Where as the Sabbath was the way the Isrealites emulated God and gained much needed rest, through Jesus Christ we find a much more perfect way of emulating God while also providing rest and peace to our neighbors and ourselves.
He fulfilled the covenant of Noah by providing a way that mankind will never be destroyed again. By bringing eternal life, by bringing us through the waters of baptism, into a new life. We are no longer under threat of death, but God has seen His rainbow and not only remembered His promise(as if He needed to be reminded) but has provided the way for ALL people to be saved!

The Abrahmic covenant required circumcision for the promises of God, to bring people into God's family. Jesus fulfilled the promise to Abraham by extending the spiritual descendents of Abraham to every nation, thereby fulfilling the promise that Abraham's descendents would be more numerous than the stars! (Genesis 26:4)

Where as the Mosaic covenant required men who broke to be under the curse of death, Jesus himself took that curse and bore it that we might be freed from the law. The law is not done away with, but fulfilled! Fulfilled by God himself!

As a direct descendent of King David, Jesus as a son of David established an eternal throne, just as God promised fulfilling the covenant of David to completion. Now the kingdom has been established with the Heavenly throne and the Son will reign forever!

The New Covenant, which made the old obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) and replaced it with a 'better' one, did not destroy them or make them meaningless. It fulfilled them! It gave us a new sign, a new seal whereby we show our faith in God. We no longer circumcise, but we baptize into the family of God! We no longer celebrate Passover, but instead we participate in communion!

You see Jesus also had a role in the New Covenant, many of them in fact. Not only was He the sacrifice to seal the covenant, but He was the High Priest! Just like the other covenants it extended the scope of God's salvation to the extent that it was original intended. From a marriage, to a family, to a tribe, to a nation, to a kingdom, to the Church. We are under the New Covenant of God, and our sign is Holy Communion, do this in memory of Him! Think about that for a second! The sign of our covenant is in fact the Blood of Jesus Christ!

Now the question becomes, which covenant are you living under? What are some of the other signs that have been 'fulfilled' with new versions, shadows that have been brought to light?

In Christ,
Brian