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Old Testament Survey Of Messianic Israelology Part 1

Old Testament Survey Of Messianic Israelology Part 1

Biblical Theology of Mission Course – 10a

 

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The subject of covenants within the Bible are key to understanding God’s overall mission. In the Old Testament we see covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. This session examines these covenants in context to the Messiah and the nation of Israel.

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OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY OF MESSIANIC ISRAELOLOGY

INTRODUCTION: REVIEW OF COVENANT AND THE ADAMIC ORDER

INTRODUCTION: REVIEW OF COVENANT AND THE ADAMIC ORDER

A.    Nature of Covenant

1.    Covenants are governmental agreements made between governments in every arena of life: political (e.g. city, state, nation, etc), professional (education, business, military, etc), and private (civic, religious, recreational, family, etc).

2.    All covenants incorporate the same basic elements: two governments (G) take an oath of loyalty (O) and agree on some set of stipulations (S).  If the stipulations are met, then benefits (B) are given, which ultimately lead to well-being (WB).

Diagram2-Terms-Of-Covenant

B.    Covenant of Creation

1.    The Covenant of Creation, or “Edenic Covenant” (i.e. Gen. 1:3-2:25, cf. Jer. 33:20-26; Ps. 119:88-91), was established for the benefit of infinite propagation of well-being (cf. “good,” cf. Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) by means of intimacy and communion (cf. “image,” cf. Gen. 1:26f; 3:8).  The Adamic Order was thus the pinnacle of creation, receiving from God the “blessing,” i.e. governmental favor, to “rule over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26; cf. Ps. 8:4ff; 115:15f).

2.    However, the stipulation of this continued governmental favor unto infinite well-being was restraint from indulgence in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (i.e. governmental rebellion by means of pride and moral autonomy).  Insurrection would thus lead to loss of governmental favor expressed existentially through death (cf. Gen. 2:17; lit. “dying you will die”).

C.   Covenant of Restoration

1.    After the breaking of the original covenant, God promised a Seed that would come forth to restore the benefits of the original covenant by crushing the “head” of Satan (Gen. 3:15) and rescuing humanity from the dust to which he would inevitably return (Gen. 3:19).  This purging of the earth’s wickedness and the resurrection of the dead are the central and eternal hope of all humanity, i.e. the “gospel” of the restored Adamic Order (cf. Acts 3:21; Rom. 5:12ff; 1 Cor. 15:21ff; Rev. 11:15; etc.).

2.    The stipulations of this restoration are assumed to be the same stipulations of the original Edenic Covenant (i.e. governmental submission concerning the knowledge of good versus evil) with the addition of repentance for sin/transgression and belief in the God to accomplish the restoration and provide the righteousness necessary therein (represented by the offering of sacrifices, cf. Gen. 3:21; 4:4, 26; 8:20; 9:5-6; Heb. 11:4).

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man…” 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth… 5 for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. (ESV Genesis 8:20-9:5)

3.             This becomes the existential context and the basis of all stipulations and benefits for all parties involved in future covenants made with man.  The covenants make no sense if there is not a baseline of messianic expectation rooted in the Adamic Covenant.[1]

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,  15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God (i.e. benefits) is at hand; repent and believe (i.e. stipulations) in the gospel.” (ESV Mark 1:14-15)

4.    Without a comogenical framework to work within, the benefits and stipulations of the covenants can be manipulated arbitrarily to various theological agendas.  Moreover, a common cosmogenical base defines the “bottom line” of all the covenants—the calling forth of righteousness and faith in the heart of man.


[1] Though there are an abundance of covenants made in the Scriptures—e.g. Cain (Gen. 4:10ff); Noah (Gen. 9:1-17); Ishmael (Gen. 17:20ff); Isaac (Gen. 26:3f); Jacob (Gen. 28:13ff); Levites (Ex. 32:29; Num. 3:12f; Neh. 13:29; Jer. 33:21); Phinehas (Num. 25:12f); second generational Israel (Deut. 29-30); Joshua, et al. (Josh. 24:25); Saul (1 Sam. 13:13); Absalom (2 Sam. 15:7f); Solomon (1 Ki. 3:11ff; 6:12f); Jeroboam (1 Ki. 11:35ff); Asa (2 Chr. 15:12-15); Josiah (2 Ki. 23:3); Nehemiah (Neh. 9:38ff); Zerubabbel (Hag. 2:23); Joshua the high priest (Zech. 3:6ff); Peter (Mt. 16:18f); Disciples (Mt. 19:28ff; Lk. 22:29f)—Only four post-Adamic covenants will be examined in this work—Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New—since these are the primary covenants addressed in the New Testament concerning the resurrection and Kingdom (cf. Mt. 1:1; Lk. 1:32, 69; 24:27, 44; Acts 10:43; 24:14; 26:22; Rom. 4:1-25; 7:1-25 1 Cor. 10:1-13; 2 Cor. 3:7-18; Gal. 3:6-29; Col. 2:6-23; Heb. 4-10; 1 Pe. 2:4-12; Rev. 22:16).

Thus, all the covenants can be uniformly interpreted within the overarching context of the original Adamic Order and the eschatological Messianic Seed, without unduly exalting some covenants over others within a covenantal framework of “works” vs. “grace” or arbitrarily arranging the covenants within a dispensational framework of “conditional” vs. “unconditional” according to their various dispensational functions.  This “narrative format” for interpreting the covenants establishes continuity of expectation between the covenants and throughout the Scriptures.

ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

A.    Introduction and Narrative Context

1.    The center and ultimate purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant is the Messianic Seed (Gen. 13:15; 17:7f; 22:17f).  It is within the Messianic Seed of Gen. 3:15 that the governmental favor from the throne in the heavens will be restored to all the nations of the earth as it was in the beginning.

By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son,  17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed (corporately under the Messianic Head) as the stars of the heavens… 18 And in your seed (nation under the Messianic Head) all the nations (Hb. goyim) of the earth shall be blessed (receive governmental favor; cf. Gen. 12:1-3), because you have obeyed My voice. (NASB Genesis 22:16-18)

a)             The New Testament makes this abundantly clear.  The purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant was ultimately to bring forth the Messiah.[1]

The promises (i.e. covenants) were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ (i.e. Messiah)… 19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. (NIV Galatians 3:16-19)

b)    Moreover, it is clearly articulated that the Abrahamic Covenant is ultimately unto the restoration of the Adamic Order (i.e. resurrection and enforced theocracy), which is accomplished by means of the Messianic Seed (cf. Acts 3:21-26; Rom. 4:13-25; Heb. 6:1-19).

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing (Gk. anapsuxis, i.e. resurrection) may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,  21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things (Gk. apokatastasis, i.e. to the original Adamic order) about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (“since the world began” KJV/NKJV)… 25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham (concerning the restoration of all things to the Adamic Order), “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (cf. Gen. 12:3; 22:18)  26 For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him (Gk. proton, “first” ESV/NRSV/NIV/NLT) to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways (before sending him again to bless you by restoring the original Adamic Order). (NASB Acts 3:20-26)

2.    The immediate narrative context of the Abrahamic Covenant is Tower of Babylon (Gen. 11:1-9) and the Table of Nations (Gen. 10).  God dispersed the post-flood inhabitants across the face of the earth because of their rebellion and rejection of the Noahic Covenant (Gen. 9:1-17).

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens (where God sits enthroned), and let us make a name for ourselves (independent government), lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth (cf. 9:1).” … 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do (in rebellion)… 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth. (ESV Genesis 11:4-8)

a)    The “nations” (Hb. goyim) were primarily delineated by their language, familial descent, and region of dispersion after the Tower of Babylon.

These are the sons of Shem, by their clans (Hb. mishpachah), their languages, their lands, and their nations (Hb. goyim).  32 These are the clans (Hb. mishpachah) of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations (Hb. goyim), and from these the nations (Hb. goyim) spread abroad on the earth after the flood. (ESV Genesis 10:31-32)

b)    God therefore calls forth a man out of the nations to prepare the nations for the coming Seed.  God designates one clan (Abraham) that speaks one language (Hebrew), in one land (Canaan), to be the nation that would bring forth the Seed, in whom all the nations would be restored to their intended glory.  Moreover, the Adamic Order was the primary context for Abraham understanding “blessing” (cf. resurrection) and “cursing” (cf. death) within the covenant.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country (Ur of the Chaldeans, cf. 15:7) and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  2 And I will make of you a great nation (Hb. goy), and I will bless you and make your name great (cf. 11:4), so that you will be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you (and your Seed, cf. 22:18) all the families (Hb. mishpachah, cf. 10:31f) of the earth shall be blessed (cf. Gen. 1:28).” (ESV Genesis 12:1-3)

c)    The Abrahamic covenant must thus be seen within the context of and as a necessary response to the Tower of Babylon rebellion.  Had the Tower of Babylon never happened, there would be only one goy, the Adamic nation, with a singular hope in the Adamic Seed.  Because of Babylon, there is a distinction between one goy (i.e. descendants of Abraham) and all the other goyim (i.e. nations/gentiles).

B.    Covenantal Format

1.    Benefits/Inheritance

a)    Like the original Edenic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant assumes the ultimate benefit of eternal life and the propagation of infinite well-being through intimacy with the Godhead.

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (NIV Genesis 17:7)

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (NIV Revelation 21:3)

b)    Moreover, like the Adamic Covenant after the Fall, the Abrahamic Covenant assumes the benefits of resurrection from the dust and restoration of the original Adamic Kingdom.  However, it is added that this resurrection and kingdom will be given to Abraham and his descendants within the land of Canaan.

And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”  8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” (ESV Genesis 15:7-8)

  • Jesus replied (to the Sadducees), “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures (i.e. the covenants, cf. v.32) or the power of God (i.e. what power is unto)… 31 But about the resurrection of the dead— have you not read what God said to you,  32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (i.e. “God of” = covenant maker/keeper) He is not the God of the dead but of the living (i.e. God makes covenants with living human beings, and thus he will fulfill those covenants with living human beings, not dead ones).” (NIV Matthew 22:29-32)

As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.  5 No longer will you be called Abram (lit. “exalted father/chief”); your name will be Abraham (lit. “father/chief of a multitude”), for I have made you a father of many nations.  6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you… 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (NIV Genesis 17:4-8)

  • It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise (i.e. covenant) that he would be heir of the world (restoring the Adamic Order and enforced theocracy), but through the righteousness that comes by faith… 16 Therefore, the (eschatological) promise comes (i.e. is received) by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring… He is the father of us all.  17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” (cf. Gen. 17:5) He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed– the God who gives life to the dead (i.e. resurrection of the dead) and calls things that are not (i.e. restored theocratic order) as though they were (cf. “have made you”–v.17).  18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became (“that he should become” ESV, cf. KJV/NASB/NRSV/NLT) the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him… 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead— since he was about a hundred years old– and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God (i.e. resurrection and global theocracy), but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (NIV Romans 4:13-21)

c)    Thus, Abraham sees himself and his Seed as the ordained means by which the earth will be restored.  Though the earth had rebelled in Adam, and though it had rebelled at Babylon, God would restore the nations in the resurrection in connection with Abraham.

I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation (Hb. goy) and a community of nations (Hb. goyim) will come from you, and kings will come from your body.  12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you (cf. Gen. 15:7; 28:13). (NIV Genesis 35:11-12)

2.    Stipulations/Obligations

a)    Since the Abrahamic Covenant assumes the original Edenic Covenant, it thus assumes the stipulations therein, i.e. governmental submission concerning the knowledge of good versus evil.  Thus, Abraham and his descendants are commanded to walk before the Lord and be blameless.

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me (in submission), and be blameless (concerning repentance).  2 I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” (NASB Genesis 17:1-2)

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. (ESV Genesis 18:19)

b)    Moreover, it is assumes the same stipulations of the Adamic Covenant after the Fall, i.e. the need for repentance concerning sin and transgression and belief in God to accomplish the restoration of all things.

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven… 12 “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God (concerning judgment, reflecting repentance), because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son… 16 I swear by myself, declares the LORD… 17 I will surely bless you… 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (NIV Genesis 22:10-18)

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars– if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (NIV Genesis 15:5-6)

(1)    This repentance and belief is symbolized by the offering of sacrifices.  The sacrifice of the animal represents the acknowledgement of the heart that punishment is deserved—life for life, blood for blood.

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.  8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent… There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. (NIV Genesis 12:7-8)

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (NIV Genesis 22:7)

Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. (NIV Job 1:5)

(2)    Moreover, this is the purpose of the circumcision of the flesh.  It is a sign of the circumcised repentant and believing heart, since it concerns the very means by which the Messianic Seed would be brought forth.

This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you… 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people (thus cut off from the Seed); he has broken my covenant (assuming rejection of the sign as a consequence of rejection of repentance and belief). (NIV Genesis 17:10-14)

To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it15 Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers (cf. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations (for inclusion in the Messianic Kingdom), as it is today.  16 Circumcise your hearts (i.e. repent and believe), therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (NIV Deuteronomy 10:14-16)

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh (cf. Gen. 17:9-14)–  26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart (i.e. lack repentance and belief).” (NIV Jeremiah 9:25-26)

Diagram1-Messianic-Covenants

c)    Like the Adamic Covenant it is assumed that God’s stipulations are to preserve and protect the repentant heart and provide the atonement necessary for restoration of all things.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great (under the protection of God).” (ESV Genesis 15:1)

Abraham said (to Isaac), “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together… 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.  14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide“; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (ESV Genesis 22:8-14)

C.   Summary and Conclusions

1.    The purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant is to set apart a people (Hb. mishpachah), a nation (Hb. goy) among the nations (Hb. goyim) of the earth (cf. Gen. 10), to inherit the promises of the Adamic Covenant (Gen. 1:26-3:24).  In context to this nation, all the nations of the earth will participate in the blessing of God, i.e. resurrection.

2.    Thus, the descendants of Abraham are essentially the family/nation chosen by God to receive the benefits of the Kingdom; however, this blessing is contingent upon a repentant and believing heart which is signified by circumcision and sacrifice.

3.    Since all covenants are “conditional,” so also is the Abrahamic.  Though the availability of the reward is never in question, the inheritance of such blessings is always contingent upon continued repentance and belief.  Even at the end of Abraham’s life, after passing the “test” of sacrificing Isaac (Gen. 22:1-18), it is assumed that his own inheritance of the land and kingdom is still contingent upon his remaining in the same state of repentance and faith to the end.

4.    Despite much modern commentary to the contrary, the Abrahamic Covenant has not been fulfilled nor consummated.[2]  The writer of Hebrews clearly places the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant in the future, referencing it to “the end” as an “anchor of the soul.”

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself… 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,  18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. (ESV Hebrews 6:11-19)


[1] Because the language of the covenants in the Old Testament seems dull initially, it is beneficial to begin with the perspective and commentary of the apostolic witness.  The course has thus far tried to establish the digression of humanity and the loss of the simple messianic witness of the Church.  Thus, the apostolic witness is assumed to be trustworthy and superior to modern commentary, an assumption I believe will be vindicated on the last Day.

[2] Just because aspects of some of the covenants seem to have been fulfilled historically, it does not mean that the covenants have been fulfilled.  Covenants are cohesive wholes, i.e. the Seed (individual and collective), the Nation and the Land are joined together and interdependent within the covenant.  Thus, the fulfillment of aspects of a covenant only point to its full consummation (cf. Hb. 11:32-40).  Passages commonly quoted by amillennialists, such as Jos. 21:43-45; 23:14; Ne. 9:8 (though directly contradicted by Jdg. 2:20-23), do not speak of the fulfillment of all aspects of the covenant, but rather only particular aspects (cf. Gen. 15:12-16), which only serve to testify to the fulfillment of all aspects of the covenant (cf. Acts 7:5ff).  In other words, the possession of the land of Canaan was only meant to strengthen the hope of the coming Messiah who would extend righteousness from that land to the ends of the earth (cf. Ps. 72:8; Zech. 9:10; etc.)

Moreover, the writer of Hebrews specifically addresses the issue of the fulfillment of the covenant in Joshua’s day (a mistake seemingly also taught by some Jewish rabbis at the time of Christ) when speaking of entering the “Sabbath rest” (Heb. 3-4)—i.e. the Son being “appointed heir of all things” (1:2), His subjecting “the world to come” (2:5), “the hope” of that subjection (3:6), etc.  Though dwelling in the land with a king, David still exhorts the Israelites to avoid the unbelief of those in the wilderness that they might enter into the future fulfillment of the covenant (4:6-8), the divine rest established at creation (4:3).

John John (119 Posts)

John lives in Columbia, SC with his wife, Lydia, and four children. He travels and teaches on the Cross, the return of Jesus, and the Great Commission.


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