Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Covenant and Gospel

I have already gained very many insights in my few weeks here at Seminary. I do not have a favorite class, but have been intrigued with my Introduction to Old Testament Class at 7:00am. (I probably won't take a 7am class again though!)

Nonetheless, The concept of the covenant in the Old Testament has become a particular interest of mine lately. In Genesis chapter 6 we see the Noahic Covenant. (Genesis 6:18). We see the theme of covenantal blessing in Gen. 9:1, "And God Blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. In verses 9:9 &11, God says that he will establish his covenant with Noah. Also, the sign of the Noahic Covenant is the rainbow.

Before I continue, notice the parallel between Genesis 9:1 and 1:28, "And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the eath and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Do you see the striking parallel. Here, although the word covenant is not used, is covenantal blessing and command. I call this the Adamic Covenant. God has been a covenant making and keeping God even before the fall of man.

In chapters 15 and 17 we see the Abrahamic Covenant, that God will make his covenant with Abram and that he will be a father to many nations, thus, his name is changed to Abraham meaning, A Father to the nations. Notice that in the first two covenants, being fruitful and multipying was given as a command. Notice in this covenant that God is going to make Abraham fruitful.

Genesis 17:6-8, "I will make you exceedingly fruitful and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you through their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possesion, and I will be their God."

In verse 26, God confirms to Isaac, the covenant he made with Abraham. "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your offspring ad the stars of the heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Gen. 26: 3-5. Also, you can also see the Lord doing the same thing in Jacob's dream of the ladder in chapter 28.

This post is entitled covenant and gospel, and is not meant to be a mere history lesson of God's dealings with Israel. Turn to Galatians 3:7-14.

Galatians 3:7-9

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the
Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you
shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are of faith are blessed
along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Notice that it says the gospel was preached to Abraham, and the gospel is the language used in the establishment of the Abrahamic Covenant. This we can clearly see that the gospel is the fulfillment of the covenant that God had began in creation.

When we speak of the gospel, we cannot reduce it simply to the "death, burial, and resurrection" because in this text, the gospel is spoken of as the covenant made with Abraham that goes back to the Adamic Covenant, before the fall.

However this covenant has its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. When a covenant is established, there is always blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. It is of no surprise that Galatians 3:10-14 uses the terminolgy of cursed and blessed. Humanity was cursed because of their continued disobedience to the covenant established by Yahweh. Yet in Galatians 3:10-14, We see that Christ took the place of humanity so that humanity could receive the covenental blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Galatians 3:10-14
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them."Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

In this passage we see that Christ became a curse for us. Why? verse 14 tells us, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might recieve the promised Spirit through faith. Christ became a curse for us so that we may partake in the covenantal blessings.

Friends, when we speak of the gospel, may our minds be opened to all that it entails. The gospel cannot be reduced to mere facts of the passion narrative. No, the gospel is rooted in God's covenantal relationship throughout scripture that finds its ultimate fulfilment in Christ. In proclaiming the gospel, we must show that God has been initiating a covenant relationship since the creation of man, and still is issuing that covenant relationship to people today in and through the atonement of Jesus Christ!


romans1423 said...

If you want to explore the covenants and how they relate to Christians, check out "The Christ of the Covenants" by O. Palmer Robertson, if you haven't already. It's a great read on the subject, and it's certainly a lot of information to digest as well!

Rhett said...

I have heard that book was excellent...