Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 8 The Davidic Covenant

A Man after God’s Own Heart

As we have seen, Israel fails to honor its part of the Mosaic Covenant. They repeatedly rebel against God.
Then Israel rejects Him as their ruler. They go to the Prophet Samuel and demand that he select for them a king, like the other nations have. Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin is selected, and fails horribly. God commands that the Amalekites be completely destroyed, and Saul disobeys. Because of his disobedience, God tells Samuel that Saul’s kingly line will be cut off.
God commands Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, for it is there that God would show him who the next king would be. Jesse brings his sons before Samuel and all seven are rejected by God. “Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all the young men here?’ Then he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep’.” (1 Samuel 16:11) David, a young shepherd with a heart for God is chosen.

The King is Coming
2 Samuel 7:8-17; 1 Chronicles 17:7-14

God makes a covenant with David. This covenant is one that would continue throughout history, to all of David’s descendants.
There are seven provisions to the Davidic Covenant. The first provision tells that the line of David would continue forever. We know that, to this day, at least one descendant of David lives – Jesus!
The second is that Solomon would rule after David. This is proven true because the one who is said to have ruled after David would also be the one who would build the Temple as a house for God, which is the third provision.
The fourth provision states that David’s throne would continue forever. That throne is occupied in the spiritual realm through Jesus today.
Fifth, though Solomon would sin against God and be disciplined for it, the line of David would not be cut off as Saul’s was.
Sixth, the seed of David’s sons would come, and God would establish His kingdom. This Seed is Messiah.
Finally, this kingdom established through the Seed would last forever.
This reference to the Seed takes us back thousands of years to another covenant. The Adamic Covenant is the first time we hear of this Seed. We know from that covenant that the Seed would be bruised by Satan, but would ultimately crush Satan’s head. Now we learn that the Seed would also reign as king forever.
Because of this covenant the people of Israel begin to await the Son of David. He would be the Messiah; the One who would come and defeat their enemies and establish an eternal, perfect kingdom upon the earth.
But the kingdom of Israel divides after just two generations following David. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, Judah, both rebel against God and are judged. The Divided Kingdom is conquered and the people placed in captivity. After a time they are allowed to return to the land, but they never again see a true son of David sit upon the throne in Jerusalem. Centuries pass, and the people hold on to the hope of the conquering Messiah to come.
But the people fail to remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah, who proclaimed God’s judgment during the Divided Kingdom period. He, among other, spoke of another covenant to come.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 7 The Land Covenant

Deuteronomy 29:1; 30:1-10

Israel disobeyed. History clearly shows that they did not honor the Mosaic Covenant – the Covenant of the Law. But later, after the Law was given at Mt. Horeb, God reaffirms the covenant made with Abraham. Remember, God and Abraham walked the Land of Canaan together, and God promised that the land would belong to Abraham’s descendants. Now, in Moab, just before Israel entered the Promised Land, God renewed this covenant. He told them that they would always hold the title deed to the land. But he also warned, the privilege of dwelling in it was tied to their obedience.
There are seven provisions of the Land Covenant. The first is the prophetic pronouncement that Israel would disobey and be driven from the land. Secondly, Israel would repent of their sin. The third pronouncement is that God would gather Israel together again. Fourth, Israel would once again take possession of the land promised to their fathers. Sixth, the LORD would circumcise their hearts – a clear reference to spiritual salvation. Seventh, Israel would live under the blessing of God.
While we may be quick to assume that this pattern is played out repeatedly during the time of the Judges, there is an aspect of it that never was. God promises to circumcise the people’s hearts. Salvation would come. The people would be spiritually born. Israel has yet to experience this as a nation. But we will see that the promise of this national salvation will soon be fulfilled.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 6 The Mosaic Covenant

Exodus 19:3-8

Two-million Hebrews. That is the number of people that Biblical scholars estimate left Egypt in the Exodus. Two-million slaves who had never tasted freedom before. Two-million men, women and children, with no structure; no organization; no laws. Two-million wanderers following an eighty year old shepherd, prophet, and former prince of Egypt.
I’m sure that they had heard stories of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and how they each had encountered a God who claimed that He would care for and bless them. There may have even been some faithful within the nation who spoke of an ancient promise to Abraham. “Our father Abraham’s God told him that after four hundred years of captivity, we would leave carrying out great possessions!” they would say. Then this peculiar man named Moses showed up and started doing the miraculous, preaching about how “I Am” was going to set them free.
Now they had crossed through the Red Sea on dry land, and seen the armies of Egypt utterly destroyed. They made their way to the base of a mountain called Sinai. For the first time in four centuries, they were a free people.
Along with great joy, they must have been terrified. Was this God a good God? What would He expect from them? Where were they going? What were they going to do when they got there, just tell the inhabitants of the land to give it over to them, because God said so?
There are 613 “provisions” in the Torah, or Law. These provisions were the requirements of God on Israel as a nation. The Mosaic Covenant is between God and Israel. This covenant is a conditional/bilateral covenant. In Exodus 19:5-6a, God tells Israel “if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” We see the conditional, “If you…I will” present here.
Israel agreed to this covenant: “Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 19:8) The Mosaic Covenant was, in essence, the national constitution of Israel – a Theocracy ruled by God, Himself. God, as Sovereign, had the right to set regulations over the conduct of every aspect of life within Israel. God desired to establish a people who would be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” They would be set apart. They would be different from the nations of the world. This would be necessary, as God’s ultimate plan for Israel was to use it to facilitate the fulfillment of the Adamic Covenant, as well as the “blessing to the nations” aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. The promised Seed still must come.
There are several aspects of the Mosaic Covenant that we must understand. First, the Torah governed every aspect of life. There are 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commands in the Torah.
Second, being a conditional covenant, the nation would be blessed for obedience and judged for disobedience.
Third, blood sacrifice was instituted. God is Holy. The people would have a daily reminder that sin required judgment. The calendar of the nation would center on this truth.
Fourth, circumcision was made a means of submission to the Law. Circumcision was originally instituted in Genesis 17, as God commanded Abraham and all males within his household to be circumcised as a symbol of the Abrahamic Covenant. But the purpose of circumcision was now changed to be a sign of submission to the Law. That is why the Apostle Paul warned the Gentiles in Galatia that submitting to circumcision required that they obey the Law entirely. (Galatians 5:3)
And finally, the Sabbath is instituted as a sign of the nation’s faith in God. All work would cease on the seventh day of each week. In a world where it was necessary to prepare food daily – remember, there is no refrigeration or pre-packaging – this would be a symbol to the nations that Israel trusted in God, and a reminder to Israel that they were to depend on their Sovereign.The nation struggled from the very beginning with honoring this covenant. Rebellion, complaining and lack of faith are common throughout Israel’s history. This lack of faith causes a delay of forty years before they are allowed by God to enter the Promised Land. After conquering it, a pattern of rebellion, judgment, repentance and deliverance continue for several hundred years. This rebellion would eventually result in the people being taken into captivity and scattered throughout the earth. Because the Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant, it would seem that this would be the end of Israel’s existence as a nation in the land of their forefathers. But a promise was made to Abraham, and that promise would be remembered.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 5 The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1-3

We know very little about Abram before He is chosen by God. The end of Genesis 11 says his father, Terah, took Abraham and Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and their families and left Ur to go to Canaan. For a reason not spelled out in Scripture, they stop in Haran before completing their journey. It is there that Terah died. We are also told that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, is unable to have any children.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about Abraham. Still, he is chosen by God. A voice from Heaven comes to him and makes a series of unbelievable promises. And Abraham’s part in the agreement is to believe that voice. That is the one characteristic about Abraham that is praised throughout the Bible. Genesis 15:6 says, “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”
This is a righteousness that is not earned in any way. Just a cursory look at the life of Abraham makes that clear. Abraham goes to Egypt and convinces Sarah to lie and say that they are brother and sister. Later, Abraham seeks to fulfill the covenant on his own by taking Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, and bearing a son through her. He lies again about his relationship with Sarah, this time to Abimelech, the king of Gerar. After God fulfills His promise to Abraham by giving him a son through Sarah, he rejects Hagar and Ishmael, his son through her. Abraham, like all of us, had his weaknesses and problems.
Yet the Bible is clear when it calls Abraham “righteous.” Abraham would go on to be the father of many nations. Even today, his name is praised by Jew, Arab and Gentile. The Abrahamic Covenant is the picture of God’s relationship with man: God promises; man believes God; and God fulfills His promise.
In reality, the Abrahamic Covenant is developed from Genesis 12 through 17. Immediately we see a difference between this covenant and the previous three we’ve looked at. In the Edenic, Adamic, and Noahic Covenants, there is a single person who exists as the forerunner of all who would live after them (Adam and Noah). But in the Abrahamic Covenant, the Earth is already populated. Because of this, the Abrahamic Covenant does not apply directly to all of humanity, but to the descendants of the one with whom the covenant is made, Abraham.
The Abrahamic Covenant is a unilateral/ unconditional covenant. Genesis 12:1-3 show promises made by God, without any condition placed upon Abraham. Five times in these verses we hear God say, “I will,” without hearing Him place the condition of “if you” on Abraham:
1. “I will show you…( a land)” (verse 1)
2. “I will make you a great nation…” (verse 2)
3. “I will bless you…” (verse 2)
4. “I will bless those who bless you…” (verse 3)
5. “I will curse those who curse you…” (verse 3)
There are three major provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant. First, we see that Abraham is promised a land for his descendants to dwell in. This promise is confirmed and developed later in another covenant with Israel – the Land Covenant. Second, the promise of the Seed is confirmed and developed further in the Davidic Covenant. And third, the blessing to the nations is confirmed and developed further in the New Covenant.
The beauty of the Abrahamic Covenant is its simplicity. A common man with common weaknesses meets the Creator and is changed forever. Abraham makes many mistakes. He even doubts God at times.
God comes to Abraham again in Genesis 15 to remind him of the promise, and Abraham questions God asking, “’LORD God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus’?” Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir’. (verses 2-3)”
But God is patient and faithful to His promise. He takes Abraham for a walk and promises that Abraham’s servant will not be his heir, but instead, one that will come from his own body (verse 4). Then he tells Abraham to count the stars, and promises that his descendants will outnumber them.
Then God tells Abraham to prepare for a covenant ceremony. In Abraham’s day it was common for two parties who were entering into covenant to take several animals and slaughter them, cutting them in half. The two parties would then pass between the pieces, signifying that if either party broke the covenant, the same fate should come to the covenant violator as did the animals. Abraham would have been familiar with this ceremony. The beauty is that God caused Abraham to fall into a deep sleep. During that sleep, he had a vision of God. God spoke to Abraham saying, “’Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age…’And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (verses 13-17). God passes alone through the pieces. The responsibility for the Abrahamic Covenant rests on God and God alone.
Events occurred exactly as God told Abraham they would. Abraham lived a long life. Sarah bore him a son – Isaac. The covenant was confirmed with Isaac (Genesis 26), and again with his son, Jacob (Genesis 28). A famine forced Jacob (now called Israel) and his family into Egypt. And four hundred years passed. God delivered the Children of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and they left Egypt with great wealth. A nation has been born. And a new covenant is necessary to guide it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 4 The Noahic Covenant

Humanity Destroyed

If you remember from yesterday, humanity has grown so evil, God regrets creating it (Genesis 6:6-8). So begins the story of Noah. God is sorry for creating mankind, but He’s made a covenant; and that covenant must be honored. Man has done nothing to merit survival. If the Adamic Covenant would have been a conditional/bilateral covenant, mankind would surely have been wiped out. But the unconditional/unilateral covenant God made hundreds of years earlier with Adam made it clear that a Seed would have to be born, and that Seed would destroy Satan.
A study of Noah shows that his selection was based upon a relationship with God. Genesis 6:9b – “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Noah lived in communion with the Creator. This is how Enoch – Noah’s great-grandfather – was described as well, yet Enoch received a special distinction: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24) I remember growing up hearing my pastor say, “God invited Enoch to stay the night with Him, but since there is no night in Heaven, he still hasn’t returned.”
I can imagine Noah sitting on his grandfather, Methuselah’s lap listening to him as he tells the story of Enoch, and how he walked in intimacy with God, and then suddenly disappeared. Noah must have desired that special closeness and communion with God for himself.
God chooses to begin anew with Noah. He commands Noah to build an ark and prepare for a worldwide flood. Noah obeys, in spite of the persecution, ridicule and absurdity of it all. And God floods the Earth, just as He said He would. Noah and his family are spared, and after months of waiting, the ark comes to rest on the Mountains of Ararat. Finally, man once again sets foot upon dry land.

A Promise in the Sky

Genesis 8:21b-9:17

In the Noahic Covenant, Noah acts as the representative of mankind, just as Adam did in the Edenic and Adamic Covenants. Thus, the Noahic Covenant is a covenant with all humanity.
First, God commands Noah to repopulate the Earth. Some historians have suggested that the Great Flood was localized rather than worldwide, but the command to “be fruitful and multiply” shows that this cannot be the case. The only humanity remaining was on the ark – Noah and his wife, and their sons Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives.
The second provision was that man was to now rule over the animal kingdom, and all animals would now live in fear of man. We will see in the next provision why this is important.
The third provision of the Noahic Covenant is the allowance to eat flesh from the animal kingdom. Remember, up until this time, man’s diet was still vegetarian. Man would now be allowed to eat meat. As a result, God places within the animal kingdom a fear of man that would be an instinct for self preservation.
Fourth, man is restricted from eating or drinking blood. Blood is the symbol of life. This provision was to remind man of this.
The fifth provision was capital punishment. Up until this time, there is no record of a life-for-life policy among mankind.
Sixth, God promises man that He will never again destroy the Earth with flood. This is the only part of the Noahic Covenant that is related to God, but there is no stipulation on it. God never says that He would spare the Earth from flood only if man honors the above provisions. God places the requirement for the Noahic Covenant on Himself. There is no “if you…I will” aspect to it. To seal this covenant, God places the rainbow in the sky, as a reminder to Himself that He is bound to this covenant. Man benefits from seeing the sign of the rainbow, but God says in Genesis 9:15 that when He sees the rainbow: “…I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh…”
Once again, mankind is given fresh start. And, again, man will fall terribly short. Noah himself becomes drunk, and passes out in his tent, naked. One of his sons, Ham, mocks his nakedness and is cursed. Mankind grows into a great people again, but fails to spread over the whole Earth, as commanded. Instead, they become prideful and actually conceive a plan to build a tower that reaches into Heaven. This sounds strangely similar to the original rebellion of Lucifer: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…” (Isaiah 14:12-13a).
God does not allow this pride and rebellion to go unpunished. Genesis 11:9 says that God, “…confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
The Earth is once again covered with a humanity that seeks to serve its own fleshly desires. But God is faithful. He seeks out a man through whom He can raise up a special people who would worship and serve Him. He chooses a shepherd from Ur.

Abraham is selected and we see three of the most important verse in all of Scripture.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 3 The Adamic Covenant

Covenant of Hope

Genesis 3:14-19

At the point of utter despair and hopelessness, God establishes as new covenant – the Adamic Covenant. This covenant would again be made with Adam as the representative head of all mankind. But unlike the Edenic Covenant, which was conditional and bilateral, the Adamic Covenant is unilateral, made solely by God, and He would be the One to fulfill it. The Adamic Covenant opens with a pronouncement on the serpent. There are two aspects to this pronouncement. The first aspect is related to the animal-serpent. We know that the rebellious, fallen angel Lucifer was the ultimate source of the temptation of Eve, but the vessel used to tempt her was cursed first. We see that the serpent must have walked uprightly before the Fall, because the it would now be forced to crawl on its belly. It would also be hated and feared by mankind from that point forward. The second aspect of the pronouncement on the serpent is related to Lucifer, himself. And herein lays the hope of the Adamic Covenant. First, we see hatred between Lucifer and Eve that would continue throughout the history of mankind. It only takes a moment to look at the way that women have been treated over the centuries to see this illustrated. We also see a veiled prophecy of the virgin birth illustrated here. Simple biology teaches that the man brings the seed to the conception process, but here we see God make reference to the Seed of the woman - the only time this occurs is in the birth of Jesus. And the promise of the Adamic Covenant is that, although Lucifer would bruise the heel of the Seed, the Seed would ultimately crush Lucifer’s head. Before we look at the pronouncements of the Adamic Covenant upon Adam and Eve, we have to put ourselves in their place. At this point they have no hope; no future. We know that the serpent is Lucifer. We know that the Seed is Jesus. We know that Lucifer would “bruise His heel” at the Crucifixion. We know that Jesus would crush Lucifer’s head at the Resurrection and, ultimately, after the final rebellion of Revelation 20. Adam and Eve do not. All Adam and Eve know is that their rebellion has ruined Paradise. They know that the intimacy with God that they were created for has been broken. They know, for the first time, what good and evil are. But these words of God offer a glimmer of light. If there is enmity between the woman and the serpent, and between their seeds, than that must mean that humanity has a future? But that future would be difficult. For the woman, childbirth and conception would be hard, and she would be ruled by men. For the man, work would now be difficult and, at times, seem to be fruitless. And both would face physical death, just as they were now spiritually dead. They are expelled from the Garden, and a cherub with a flaming sword cuts off their ability to partake of the Tree of Life in the center. But not until after God has given them a covering for the manifestation of their guilt. Genesis 3:21 says, “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. For the very first time, God slaughters an animal - maybe even a lamb - and uses that death to cover man’s guilt. It doesn’t take long for the reality of spiritual death to sink in. Cain kills Abel out of jealousy, and the downward cycle continues. Just a few hundred years pass before humanity has become so evil that God regrets creating it: Genesis 6:6-8 – “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But even as the Creator of the Universe makes plans to wipe out humanity, His grace, mercy and faithfulness to the Covenant made with Adam, shine through: Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

TomorrowA look at the Noahic Covenant - God's blueprint for the conduct of the Gentile world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Faithfullness of God in His Covenants With Man - Part 2 The Edenic Covenant

Genesis 1:28-30; Genesis 2:15-17

Imagine a perfect world. No pain. No struggle. No conflict. There is peace. There is contentment. There is unity. This is the world of Genesis 1 and 2. This is the Garden of Eden. God the Creator has spent six days shaping a world where He could commune with mankind. He has created Eve as a perfect partner for Adam. The Bible says that God even walked with Adam and Eve in Eden in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8).
I know my tendency. I want to jump forward to Genesis 3, and the Serpent and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But we must stop and resist that urge. A perfect creation - this is the gift that the Creator gave Mankind! He gave us perfect, complete communion with Himself. But this relationship was tied to a Covenant.
This is the Edenic Covenant. It is a conditional/bilateral covenant. It is characterized by the concept of, “if you…I will.” In this Covenant, Adam is the representative of all Mankind. He and Eve are the source of all humanity, and as a result, their actions determine the direction of man’s future. The first condition or provision of the Edenic Covenant is that man and woman were to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the Earth (Genesis 1:28). God had created a perfect world, and His desire was for mankind to populate that world.
The second requirement of the Edenic Covenant is also found in Genesis 1:28. It is the command to subdue the Earth. During the time of Eden, man was given authority over the Earth. He was to rule over the land, the seas, and all of its resources. Man was responsible for using these resources created by God in a manner that He prescribed.
The third provision of this Covenant related to all of the animal kingdom. Adam and Eve were commanded to take dominion over the Earth.
The fourth requirement of the Edenic Covenant was dietary. Adam was told he could eat of any tree, herb, or seed bearing plant. Man was originally prescribed a vegetarian diet. It is also important to note that Genesis 1:29-30 indicates that the animal kingdom was also originally intended to be vegetarian. Physical life was not to shed the blood of any other physical life. There was to be no death.
Genesis 2:15 gives man the responsibility to “dress and keep” the Garden. Man was given the command to work. We will see soon that this work was to become difficult, but only as the result of the violation of the Edenic Covenant.
Up until this point, all of the provisions of the Edenic Covenant were positive in nature. But the sixth condition of the Covenant was a prohibition. According Genesis 2:17, man was restricted from eating of one particular tree – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree was placed in the Garden to give mankind a choice. God did not desire “robotic” followers who served Him by default. He took the risk of His creation rejecting His will in order to gain the opportunity of them choosing Him over everything else.
It is easy to have a negative view of this prohibition. Why did God do this? Didn’t He know that Adam and Eve would eventually give in to this temptation? Wouldn’t it have been better for Him to not give us this choice?
We can hardly begin to understand what God was thinking when He gave us the choice to reject Him. But let’s remember, that as horrible “the fall” is from a human perspective, it doesn’t begin to compare to the pain and hurt that the Creator must have felt. And we must also remember that nothing is hidden from Him. He knew the choice we would make. He knew the consequences of that choice. He knew what life on Earth would become. He knew that He would have to take on the flesh of His creation and live among us. He knew that on one hand, He would have to suffer unfathomable torture as He not only would suffer physically, but would become sin Himself, in order to atone for our choice. On the other hand, He would have to look down from Heaven and watch as His creation would reject His Son. In spite of this, He gave us the chance to reject Him, because living through the pain and agony of our fall was better than living without a relationship with us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Man Breaks Covenant

Genesis 3:1-8

It’s over. Eve is deceived by the serpent. Adam chooses Eve over obedience to the Creator. The covenant is broken. And justice must be measured out.
Stop and ponder the moments between Adam’s disobedience and the Creator’s arrival on the scene. Adam and Eve experience guilt for the first time. Man makes his first attempt to cover that guilt apart from God. Nakedness, in itself, is not sin, yet Adam and Eve feel it necessary to cover their nakedness. This attempt to cover their guilt with fig leaves is unsuccessful, as Adam and Eve still felt it necessary to hide themselves. We cannot hide from our guilt.
What must it have been like for Adam and Eve in those moments? Can you imagine the fear? The Creator had told them that they would die as a result of breaking this covenant. In fact, they are experiencing spiritual death for the very first time. And they are waiting. They are waiting for the Creator to make His way to the Garden. I’m sure they are consumed with dread.
What about the Creator? As we saw earlier, God knew before He uttered the words, “Let there be light” that this moment would come. So He waits on the edge of the physical, and considers what will soon take place. He enters the Garden: “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you’? So he (Adam) said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. And He (God) said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat’?” (Genesis 3:9-11)
For the first time, the fleshly instinct to blame others for our sin rears its ugly head. “Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’.” (Genesis 3:12-13)

A look at the first promise of redemption - the Adamic Covenant.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Series - The Faithfulness of God In His Covenants With Man

NOTE: Over the next ten days, I will be presenting a series of blog entries that center of the Covenants of God and how, through these, we can learn of His faithfulness. Please take a few minutes each day to read these. I have been blessed by God as I have studied these covenants, and I believe you will be blessed as well as you consider His passionate, redemptive love for you. I will include a link to the Scripture reference for each days blog, but I encourage you to pull out your own Bible and read it directly for yourself.

Introduction to the Covenants of God: A God of Promise

2 Timothy 2:13

Yahweh is a God of promise. From His very first interaction with man in Genesis 1, to the final chapter of the Revelation we see this. His promises are true. If we cannot trust Him to keep His Word, then we might as well go on about our lives without Him. This may seem like a simple point, but it’s absolutely essential that we start here. When Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16), we must trust that He means that.
Faith is only as good as the source that we are placing our faith in. God is worthy of our faith. There is no greater picture of the faithfulness of God than Israel. 4,000 years ago Yahweh made a covenant-promise with a shepherd from Ur named Abram. And today, in spite of thousands of years of persecution and attempted annihilation, Israel stands - in the land of the promise - with its capital resting in Jerusalem. Sixty years ago, against all odds, this ancient nation was reborn, fulfilling hundreds of promises of the Bible. We can be sure that God’s covenants will be honored.

Covenant Defined

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines covenant as: 1: a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement 2: a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action. A covenant is much more than a promise. Promises are broken all the time. They’ve become common. But to Yahweh our God, promises are His character. They are so connected to His nature that He always keeps them, regardless of us. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
Most Christians look at the word “covenant” and think of their Bible. We understand that the word testament (as in Old Testament and New Testament) can also be translated covenant. Because of this division of “old” and “new,” we seem to spend less time looking at the “old” covenant and more time studying the “new” one. After all, why study something that is old and doesn’t really apply anymore? But there is much more to the Covenants of the Bible than we’ve been taught.

Types of Covenants

There are two different types of covenants in the Scriptures. There are unconditional/unilateral covenants, and conditional/bilateral covenants.
Unconditional/unilateral covenants of the Bible are covenants where God takes the responsibility for the fulfillment of the covenant. The conditions of the covenant are completely dependent on God. While there may be expectations put upon those with whom God covenants, the fulfillment of the covenant itself is totally in His hands. These covenants are distinguished by the words, “I will.” Here is a simple example from everyday life to make this clearer.
I have two sons. The fact that they are my sons has nothing to do with them. My wife and I chose to have children, and Samuel and Nathan are the result of that decision. Because they are my sons, I have the right to expect certain things from them. But their obedience or disobedience does not change the truth that they are my sons. It is not dependent on them in any way.
Conditional/bilateral covenants of the Bible are covenants where God has made an agreement with man that is dependent on man’s keeping up their part of the agreement. These covenants are distinguished by the words, “If you…I will.” Again, let’s consider another example using my sons.
Like all kids today, my oldest son, Samuel, loves to play video games. As parents, we have chosen to use video games as a privilege or reward. If Samuel is doing well on his schoolwork, has completed his responsibilities around the house, and has exhibited a good attitude, we allow him to spend some time playing his games. If he has not completed his chores, is not doing well on his schoolwork, or has a rotten attitude, he isn’t given that opportunity.
I realize that these examples are over-simplified and not even covenants themselves, but I believe that they clearly illustrate a point: unconditional/unilateral covenants are totally dependent on one party; conditional/bilateral covenants are dependent on both parties. Now that we understand the different types of covenants, we can begin to look at the individual covenants of the Bible.

The 8 Covenants of the Bible

There are eight different covenants in the Bible. In addition to being divided between unconditional and conditional, they can also be categorized by whom the covenants are made with. All eight covenants are the same in that they are made by God. However, God made these covenants with different parties.
The first three Covenants – the Edenic Covenant, the Adamic Covenant, and the Noahic Covenant are covenants that God made with all of mankind. The last five covenants – the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant are covenants that God made with Israel.


In the next blog of the series we will look at the first covenant of the Bible - the Edenic Covenant. Please feel free to comment or ask any questions as it relates to today's blog. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today is Yom Kippur..the Holiest Day in Judaism

This was an email sent to me from the Messianic Bible Project. I encourage you to read and consider it in light of this special day.

Today is Yom Kippur, and Jewish people around the world will fast for 24 hours and go to synagogue to pray. Yom Kippur, is also known as the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Synagogue services last from morning throughout the afternoon, during which Jewish people will do soul searching and recite prayers to rid themselves of the sins they’ve committed over the past year. This year most of the 14 million Jews around the world will attend these Yom Kippur synagogue services, and my heart cries out for them because they do not know Yeshua – the One whom the prophets speak about in their own Jewish Bible.
Teaching on Yom Kippur in the time of Yeshua
When the first and second Temples were standing in Jerusalem, the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) would remove his ordinary priestly robes and take a ritual bath, then he would put on special white clothes.
After offering the ordinary morning sacrifice, he would offer a young bullock to atone for his own sins, as he could not intercede for the people of Israel until his own sins were atoned for. He would then carry incense into the Holy of Holies, and then return to the altar to get blood from the sacrifice, which he would sprinkle on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant (Mercy Seat) and seven times on the ground in front of the ark.
After this he would sacrifice a goat for the sins of the people, and sprinkle its blood on the ark and in front of it, as he had done with the blood of the bullock. This made atonement for the Holy of Holies. Next, he provided atonement for the tabernacle by sprinkling the blood of both animals on the horns of the altar once, and seven times on the ground around it.
This is where it begins to get exciting. . .
The Azazel (Scapegoat) - After this, the high priest would go out into the Temple court and lay his hands over the head of the scapegoat, confessing over it the sins of the people of Israel.
Then the goat would be taken outside the city and released into the wilderness. This symbolized the removal (carrying away) of the sins from the people of Israel. According to the Talmud, a scarlet cord was tied around the neck of the scapegoat. This cord was reported to have turned white as the goat was led away from the city.
The Babylonian Talmud records that for the last forty years before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. - that would have been just about the time Yeshua was offered up as the final sacrifice - the scarlet cord around the neck of the scapegoat failed to turn white.
In Yeshua, all our sins are carried away “as far as east is from west” (Psalm 103:12). Yeshua is not only our High Priest, but He is also the final sacrifice who has taken away our sins.
Because of that, Your Name, my friend, is Written in the Book of Life.
Imagine, if in all the synagogues around the world, the rabbis were discussing with their congregants the links between the scarlet cord, the scapegoat, and Yeshua.
And imagine if in all the synagogues during the fall holidays they were actually reading about how Yeshua fulfilled the Jewish festivals.
Friends, do you know that 99% of all Jewish people do not know Yeshua simply because no one has ever taken the Gospel to them?