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COVENANTS THROUGH THE BIBLICAL NARRATIVE

Updated: Dec 3, 2023


The redemptive narrative in the Bible is founded upon the promises of God, which are passed down from one generation to the next. These promises, known as covenants, are considered the backbone of the Biblical narrative, as they build upon one another. God bound the universe in the cosmic interwoven fabrics by his righteousness and goodness, which was disrupted by sin, prompting God to work towards redemption. The Abrahamic Covenant was the first covenant made by God, followed by the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and a glimpse of the New Covenant. Although each covenant has a distinct focus, they are all part of the same grand picture that is fulfilled in the New Testament. Before jumping in if you are looking for more information on the topic I would highly suggest looking into, "By God, I will" written by David Pawson and, "God's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology" written by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum.


The Abrahamic Covenant promised land, descendants, and blessings to Abraham and his offspring for generations to come (Genesis 17:7-8). Abraham looked forward in faith, and the fulfillment of the promise centered on one king, Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew reveals the fulfillment of the promise that a king would come through Abraham (Matthew 1:1-16). This king was not one who would rule with military power, but one who would rule by dying for his people. Paul asserts that Jesus is the truest fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, and that his death would bring much blessing to Abraham’s descendants (Galatians 3:16). In Galatians, Paul references Abraham’s faith and declares that those who have faith in the true God are the real descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:7). This blessing is eternal life in Christ Jesus through faith (John 3:16). Galatians emphasizes the seed of promise through faith, and the blessing promised to Abraham and his descendants would be everlasting across all people and will be brought to completion on the new earth. Jesus’s death is a true blessing for us, as it allows us to obtain true life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3), and by this, every nation will one day praise God eternally (Revelation 7:9-10). However, we have broken God’s law, and our sin is deserving of punishment. Christ, not only in his death but in his living, has fulfilled the law so that we may be free from it.


Upon God's calling of his people out of Egypt and their establishment as a nation, it became necessary to establish a set of guidelines for this new community. These guidelines were intended to provide direction for how the people were to live, as well as to address the issue of sin and its atonement. The people were instructed to follow God's moral boundaries, which are transcendent across time and culture. However, as history has shown, the people were unable to fully adhere to these guidelines. Despite this, God remained committed to settling the debt of sin and upholding moral guidance. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus declares that he has come to fulfill the Law and the prophets, rather than to destroy them. While Jesus did come to fulfill the Law, the Law of Moses did not come to an end. During his lifetime, Jesus obeyed the Law of Moses as it was intended, rather than as it had been twisted and reinterpreted by religious leaders. Today, the modern Church is expected to uphold the high moral Law, but Jesus fulfills this requirement by living a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). This allows him to stand in place of humanity as a final sacrifice (Hebrews 7:26-27; Romans 5:8), which was necessary for the atonement of sin (Hebrews 9:22). The Law was established so that humanity would look to a savior who could uphold it, and by faith, be justified (Galatians 3:24-25). This has indeed come to pass. Therefore, the Law remains good and is better fulfilled for humanity than to be completely done away with. Jesus commanded that all of the Law and prophets hang on loving God and loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:40). However, James reminds us that if we fall short in one area, we are guilty of violating all the Law (James 2:8-11). It is evident that humanity fails to keep the Law perfectly. Through obedient faith in Christ, we are purified and made forensically right before God when the Spirit enters us (1 Peter 1:2, 22), as he has carried out the requirements on our behalf. Through Jesus, the Davidic Covenant is also fulfilled.


In the biblical narrative, God made several promises to David, including a great name, land for the people of Israel, and an eternal kingdom through his offspring (2 Samuel 7:9-14). Jeremiah's prophecy states that David will always have a descendant to sit on Israel's throne, and that his lineage will never be removed. Even if there is no physical king on the throne, Jesus, who is king of all and sits on the cosmic throne, will one day come down to Earth from David's lineage (Luke 1:31-33) and establish his kingdom on Earth. Jesus will be a son to the Father (2 Samuel 7:14) and will be disciplined by man to satisfy God's judgement. Paul, in the book of Romans (1:3), speaks of Jesus as God's son who came down from David's lineage. Paul notes that this everlasting kingdom will be among all nations (1:5) and not just a specific nation. While there is some debate on how much of this promise was fulfilled in David's lifetime or even the lifetime of his son, the certainty of Christ's fulfillment as seen from the biblical authors is evident. Matthew writes in his gospel that Jesus declares himself as the fulfillment of the son of David by citing the Psalm (110:1) and declaring his kingship by saying David would refer to him as Lord. Within the Psalm, David tells us that the Messiah, or his "son," will not just be a descendant but his Lord, emphasizing his deity. Revelation captures the fullness of Christ's universal kingship during the last days into eternity when John, in his vision, sees people from every nation and language standing before his throne acknowledging the king who will reign forever. The salvation that enabled all people to worship the Lord was made possible through the New Covenant spoken by God in the Old Testament.


The concept of the new covenant, as described in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, finds fulfillment in several passages of the New Testament, including Luke, 2 Corinthians, and Revelation. In Luke, Jesus presents his disciples with wine and bread during Passover, stating that "this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (22:20). The shedding of Christ's blood on the cross serves as the means by which God can forgive our iniquity, as sin cannot be forgiven without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). In 2 Corinthians, Paul asserts that our sufficiency as ministers of the new covenant comes from God, who has made us capable of serving not by the letter of the law, but by the Spirit. The Spirit, rather than the letter, gives life, as the letter kills (3:6). Our sufficiency is not based on our own merits, but on God's grace and the salvation he has granted us for his holy name's sake (Ezekiel 36:22). The new covenant of the Spirit involves the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, guiding us in God's commands and enabling us to obey his rules (Ezekiel 36:27). The internalization of the law is not a new concept, as it has always been required that God's people have inward affection. Rather, the law given to the nation of Israel will be reapplied in the same way, but for all of God's people, who will be empowered not only to hear and understand, but also to obey. Our hearts of stone have been replaced with hearts of flesh through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which gives life. Without the Spirit, the heart of stone, bound to the Law or letter, brings the will of God with no power to obey it (2 Corinthians 3:6). In Revelation, John has a vision in which he hears a voice proclaiming that the dwelling place of God is with man. God will dwell with his people, who will be his own, and he will be their God (21:3). This directly relates to Jeremiah's assertion that we will be God's people and he will be our God (31:33). This points to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in man, as mentioned in Jeremiah and Ezekiel 36:26-27. This also serves as the final fulfillment of the new covenant in Christ's second coming, when all things will be made new and God's presence with his people will be restored to its original state in the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 36:35). for more information Richard P. Belcher Jr. wrote a helpful piece discussing covenant theology through the lens of the Westminster Confession of faith called, "The Fulfillment of the Promises of God: An Explanation of Covenant Theology."


In summary, the Christian movement from its inception had transcended the constraints and limitations of contemporary Judaism. This was achieved not by renouncing its Old Testament legacy, but by providing a proper exposition of it. The establishment of the New Covenant did not render God's covenants null and void. Rather, they were brought to fruition in Christ, thereby granting us the liberty to concentrate on obeying God through the agency of the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:30-31; Galatians 5:22-23). Lastly, if you are interested in supporting the ministry then check out our store!




Disclaimer: This is a humble attempt at explaining a somewhat complex topic and while there may be some disagreement with thought, please understand a perfect analysis will not be possible. Please share your thoughts with us on the topic! Additionally, this site contains Amazon Affiliate links which may grant me a commission upon qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

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