60. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Bible Covenants 2
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 2 Corinthians 3v6-8
Following on from the Edenic, Adamic, Noahic and Abrahamic Covenants, comes the Covenant given to Moses. But before we continue our journey in Old Testament Covenants, first an explanation regarding some nuances about them.
Covenants were common in all kinds of life, and not just between God and humanity. For instance where a powerful nation had taken over a weaker nation, a covenant was in place to give benefits from the powerful nation to the weaker nation, such as protection as well as sanctions if the weaker nation rebelled. There were covenants between equal partners in deals similar to contracts of law today. The Covenants of the Old Testament had several things about them regarding the relationship between God and humanity.
Firstly, God always took the initiative – sometimes by surprise as in with Abraham or in Noah's case, through his obedience.
Secondly, God has promised certain commitments and has given His solemn promise to fulfil His end of the bargain.
Thirdly, God waits for a response from humanity. God does not coerce or force but waits for humanity to take the responsibility of replying and acquiescing to God's covenantal promises.
1. The Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19v5-8)
This is the fifth covenant between God and humanity and also the second theocratic. It commences with the stipulation “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19v5). This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God’s promise to Abraham, could know how to live righteously.
This Mosaic covenant covered the three areas of life:
The commandments were given so they would know how to correctly relate socially to God (Exodus 20v1-6)
The judgements were given in order that they could relate socially to each other properly (Exodus 21v1 - 24v11)
The decrees dictate their religious life so that God could be approaced by humanity on His terms (Exodus 24v12 - 31v18).
This Mosaic covenant however, does not replacethe Abrahamic Covenant, but rather as an addition (Galatians 3v19) to it until the Messiah Christ came and made the perfect sacrifice (Galatians 3v17-19). The Covenants pointed towards this momentous event. The Mosaic Covenant was never meant as a means towards salvation. It was given that they could realize their helplessness of their own efforts, and their need of God's help. Galatians 3v22-24 Explains that the Law was only a protective fence until through the promised Messiah, humanity “could be made right with God through faith.“
6. The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7v4-17)
This covenant is the sixth covenant and third theocratic covenant.
The Davidic Covenant promises three things :
* A land forever (2 Samuel 7v10);
* A dynasty without end (2 Samuel 7v11, 16)
* A perpetual kingdom (2 Samuel 7v13, 16)
2 Samuel 7v12 predicts the birth of Solomon as David's successor to the throne with his role being to establish David's throne forever (2 Samuel 7v13). We see this link to Jesus Christ, though the genealogies to both Joseph: a legal right to David's throne (Matthew 1v1-17) and to Mary: a blood right to David's throne (Luke 3v23-38).
7. The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31v31-34)
This covenant is the seventh covenant between God and humanity, and the fourth theocratic covenant.
Four features of this covenant are:
* Regeneration – On the hearts of people, God will write His law (Jeremiah 31v33)
* Restoration - God will be their God, and they will be God's people. (Jeremiah 31v33)
* Promised Holy Spirit – God will indwell people and they will be led by Him (Jeremiah 31v 34)
* Justification – Sins will be forgiven and removed eternally (Jeremiah 31v34)
This new covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross. His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant. His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who say yes to God and His New Covenant. This New Covenant is contrasted with the Old Covenant or the Mosaic covenant (Jeremiah 31v32; Hebrews 8v6-13) because this New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a righteous life conforming to God's holy character.
Through all these Covenants we see a God who is willing to interact with His creation and bless it. When first century Christians such as Paul, Peter and John checked all the events surrounding the life of Jesus, they searched their Scriptures (our Old Testament). It was as the Holy Spirit illuminated their minds, that they wrote down and passed on the whole gamut of Old Testament promise which was fulfilled in God's Messiah and the world's hope: Jesus Christ and Him alone. That is why it is important for us as twenty-first century Christian Disciples to read our Old Testament as well as the new. For by reading the Old Testament, new light may be shed on our own understanding of the New Testament.
For more to think about please do read for yourself: Hebrews 9v24 to Hebrews 10v25. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. What does Jesus Christ's death and the New Covenant, mean to me as a Christian Disciple?
Q2. Why and how can I, as a Christian Disciple, draw near to God?
Q3. As a Christian Disciple, what and how can I encourage those I meet?
As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.