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Old Testament Survey Of Messianic Israelology Part 2

Old Testament Survey Of Messianic Israelology Part 2

Biblical Theology of Mission Course – 10b

 

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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 circumcised.  11 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 it.  15 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 end,  12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  13 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 us.  19 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).

THE NOTES FOR THIS SESSION BEGIN HERE

MOSAIC COVENANT

MOSAIC COVENANT

A.    Introduction and Narrative Context

1.    The covenant at Mount Sinai is specifically made with the descendants of Abraham (cf. Ex. 3:6ff; 19:3; 24:1; Deut. 6:10; 7:8; etc.), as prophesied to Abraham (cf. Gen. 15:13-16), and thus it assumes all the same stipulations and benefits therein.  Circumcision, the primary sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, is thus inherent within the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Ex. 12:44ff; Lev. 12:3; Jos. 5:2ff).

Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished.  22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath.  23 Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? (NIV John 7:21-23)

a)    The Mosaic Covenant at Sinai was therefore a corporate reiteration of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Accordingly, there are no significant elements of the Mosaic Covenant that are not already present in the Abrahamic Covenant.

God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.  3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty… 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens.  5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant6 Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians… 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God (cf. Gen. 17:7)… 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'” (NIV Exodus 6:2-8)

I will make your (Isaac’s) descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed (cf. Gen. 12:3; 22:18),  5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws. (NIV Genesis 26:4-5)

b)    The Mosaic Covenant could thus be summed up as a “reiterated oath” (Deut. 7:7-9) or “confirmed oath” (Deut. 8:18; 9:4-5) that God first made with Abraham.

The LORD did not set his affection on you (i.e. initiate covenant) and choose you (to become/inherit the “great nation”) because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations (into which the Israelites were incorporated) of those who love him and keep his commands… 12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. (NIV Deuteronomy 7:7-12)

Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, “Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,” but it is… in order to confirm (Hb. qum[1]) the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (NASB Deuteronomy 9:4-5)

These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them… 12 “You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath,  13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (NIV Deuteronomy 29:1-13)

c)    Consequently, the Mosaic Covenant reiterates the promise of Abraham’s descendants becoming a “great nation” (Gen. 12:2; 22:17; cf. Ex. 32:10ff; Deut. 1:10f; 13:17f).  The promised nation is also rearticulated as the “treasured possession” of God (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18), His eternal “inheritance” (Deut. 4:20; 9:29; 32:9).

This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant (as did Abraham, et al., cf. Gen. 22:18; 26:5; etc.), then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,  6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (NIV Exodus 19:3-6)

I prayed to the LORD and said, “O Sovereign LORD, do not destroy your people, your own inheritance that you redeemed by your great power and brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  27 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (NIV Deuteronomy 9:26-27)

2.    Like the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic Covenant thus assumes as its center and ultimate purpose the coming of the Messianic Seed (cf. Gal. 3:19-24; Rom. 5:14-21).

a)    Like the other covenants the New Testament clarifies this.  Again the commentary of the apostolic witness concerning the authorial intent of Scripture is considered superior to modern commentary.

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed… who is Christ17 The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise… 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… 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (NIV Galatians 3:16-24)

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come (thus implying that Moses exemplified the type)… 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase (unto recognition of death and humanity’s need of the Messianic Seed, cf. 3:19-21); but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NASB Romans 5:14-21)

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ)… 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote– Jesus of Nazareth.” (NIV John 1:41-45)

b)    Though not constituting a large portion of Scripture, the idea of a coming Mosaic type prophet who will mediate the final covenant and initiate the restored Adamic Kingdom (Deut. 18:15-18) is central in the mind of the believer Old Testament (Is. 63:1-14; Mal. 4:1-6) and New (Mt. 21:11; Jn. 1:21, 45; 6:14; 7:40; Acts 3:22; 7:37).

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.  16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb (i.e. the small “day of the Lord”) on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”  17 The LORD said to me: “What they say is good.  18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you (mediating the final covenant and initiating the Great Fire, i.e. the “Day of the Lord”) from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. (NIV Deuteronomy 18:15-18)

…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).  22 Moses said (concerning the Messianic Seed), “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to him you shall give heed to everything He says to you.  23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” (cf. Deut. 18:15-19, LXX)… 25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers (implying correspondence of the Mosaic and Abrahamic Covenants), saying to Abraham, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (cf. Gen. 12:3; 22:18) (NASB Acts 3:20-26)

3.    Deliverance from Egypt is the immediate narrative context of the Mosaic Covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant, composed largely of “laws” (Hb. torah), was given to a broken enslaved people in coming out of the world superpower of their day, Egypt.  Integrated into the society and culture of the Egyptians, the descendants of Abraham were ignorant and ill-prepared to inherit the Kingdom promised to their father Abraham.

  • <8451> hr’AT torah {to-raw’}

Meaning:  1) law, direction, instruction 1a) instruction, direction (human or divine) 1a1) body of prophetic teaching 1a2) instruction in Messianic age 1a3) body of priestly direction or instruction 1a4) body of legal directives 1b) law 1b1) law of the burnt offering 1b2) of special law, codes of law 1c) custom, manner

Origin:  from 03384; TWOT – 910d; n f

Usage:  AV – law 219; 219

  • <3384> hr’y” yarah {yaw-raw’}

Meaning:  1) to throw, shoot, cast, pour 1a) to throw, cast… 1b) to be shot… 1c) to point out, show… to direct, teach, instruct

Origin:  a primitive root; TWOT – 910; v

Usage:  AV – teach 42, shoot 18, archers 5, cast 5, teacher 4, rain 2, laid 1, direct 1, inform 1, instructed 1, misc 4; 84

 Diagram2-Christonaturalistic-Covenants-Amillennialism

 Diagram3-Christonaturalistic-Covenants-Postmillennialism

4.    Israel knew not the ways of God, which would be enforced in the coming Kingdom; therefore, the Mosaic Law was given “because of transgression until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.” (Gal. 3:19)  Thus, the purpose of the Mosaic Covenant was ultimately given as “instruction” concerning the righteousness of the coming messianic age.

In the last days (at the coming of Messiah) the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains… 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us (Hb. yarah) his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law (Hb. torah) will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  4 He will judge between the nations (by the execution of the messianic law) and will settle disputes for many peoples. (NIV Isaiah 2:2-4)

Here is my servant (Messiah), whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations (by executing the messianic law)… 3 In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;  4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. (NIV Isaiah 42:1-4)

The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD (at the coming of Messiah)… 4 Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me (when Zion is restored); my justice will become a light to the nations.  5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations (by executing the messianic law). (NIV Isaiah 51:3-5)

a)    Torah as Instruction Concerning Righteousness

But before faith came (i.e. acknowledgment of the Messiah), we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.  24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor (Gk. paidagogos, “schoolmaster” KJV) to lead us to Christ (as messianic Master/Lord), that we may be justified by faith (unto inclusion in his Kingdom).  25 But now that faith has come (i.e. direct obedience to the Master who teaches us about his coming Law), we are no longer under a tutor.  26 For you are all sons of God (i.e. heirs of the Kingdom) through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ (i.e. included in his Kingdom) have clothed yourselves with Christ (as a direct Master and Teacher concerning his coming Kingdom). (NASB Galatians 3:23-27)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law (i.e. Mosaic Law).  9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (i.e. the purpose of the Law).  11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation (i.e. inclusion in Kingdom) is nearer now than when we first believed.  12 The night (pre-messianic age) is nearly over; the day (messianic age, cf. “day of the Lord”) is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness (as revealed by Mosaic Law, cf. “commandments”) and put on the armor of light (righteousness of messianic age, cf. “love”).  13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime (as in the messianic age), not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy (aspects of the Mosaic Law pointing to the “daytime”).  14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (living now as in the age to come under the Messianic Law), and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV Romans 13:8-14)

b)    Torah as Instruction Concerning Unrighteousness

Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.  16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed… 17 The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise… 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 3:15-19)

There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil… 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (i.e. eschatological context)… 12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law (under execution of Messianic Law), and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law (i.e. Mosaic Law ends in execution of Messianic Law)… 14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves (leading themselves to the standard of the Messianic Law by which they will be judged), even though they do not have the law (to lead them to such a standard),  15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness (cf. elders of Israel and Levites witnessing to the Mosaic Law), and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.  16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ (i.e. Mosaic Law and Gentile Law witness to and ultimately end in the execution of the Messianic Law), as my gospel declares. (NIV Romans 2:9-16)[2]

5.    Thus, the Mosaic Law was ultimately meant to be a prophetic witness of the coming messianic age.  It is a “shadow” of the Law that will be instituted by the coming Messiah (cf. Is. 2:2-4; 42:1-4; 51:4-5; Mic. 4:1-3).  Moreover, the very act of judgment presupposes a real law by which people are judged (cf. Ps. 2:9; 110:6; Is. 11:4; 24:21-23; 63:3-6; Jer. 23:5-6; Joel 3:1-2; Hab. 3:12-13; Zeph. 1:14-18; Zech. 14:12; Mal. 3:2-5).

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,  28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming[3] (at the second coming of the Messiah)– not the realities themselves. (NIV Hebrews 9:27-10:1)

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance (Gk. soma, “reality” NIV/NLT) belongs to Christ (i.e. the reality and end of the Law is found in the Kingdom, cf. 3:4). (ESV Colossians 2:16-17)

B.    Covenantal Format

1.    Benefits/Inheritance

a)    Like the Adamic and Abrahamic Covenants, the Mosaic Covenant assumes the ultimate benefit of eternal life and the propagation of infinite well-being through intimacy with the Godhead, which is symbolized by the building of the Tabernacle.

Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.  25:1 The LORD said to Moses,  2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering… 8 Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” (NIV Exodus 24:18-25:8)

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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 and Abrahamic Covenants, the Mosaic Covenant assumes the benefits of resurrection from the dust and restoration of the original Adamic Kingdom, which is now extended to all of Abraham’s descendants corporately (cf. Acts 3:19-26; Eph. 1:9-14; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pe. 2:9-12).

This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob… 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,  6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ (NIV Exodus 19:3-6)

…he made known to us the mystery of his will… 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment– to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ… 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation… 14 the redemption of those who are God’s possession. (NIV Ephesians 1:9-14)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (i.e. Messianic Kingdom)… 11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers (cf. Abraham, Gen 23:4; Heb. 11:13) to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that… they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (Gk. episcope, “when he comes to judge” NRSV; i.e. coming of Messiah, cf. 1:3-12). (NASB 1 Peter 2:9-12)

2.    Stipulations/Obligations

a)    Like the Abrahamic and Adamic Covenants, the Mosaic Covenant assumes the ultimate stipulation of governmental submission concerning the knowledge of good versus evil.  Thus, Israel as a whole is commanded to obey and fear the Lord.

Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. (NIV Deuteronomy 6:3)

For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. (NIV Jeremiah 7:22-23)

b)    Moreover, the Mosaic Covenant assumes the same stipulations of the Adamic and Abrahamic Covenant, i.e. the need for repentance concerning sin and transgression and belief in God to accomplish the restoration of all things.  This repentance and belief is also symbolized by the offering of sacrifices, which represents the acknowledgement of the heart that punishment is deserved.

When anyone sins unintentionally (assuming repentance) and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands… 4 He is to present the bull at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it before the LORD (acknowledging deserved punishment). (NIV Leviticus 4:2-4)

One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien.  30 But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people (and the inheritance therein).  31 Because he has despised the LORD’s word (disbelieving) and broken his commands (refusing to repent), that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him. (NIV Numbers 15:29-31)

  • Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,  27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy (pointing to the Day of the Lord) on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God (the greater witness) under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” (cf. Deut. 32:35) and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (cf. Deut. 32:36) (NIV Hebrews 10:25-30)

(1)    Thus, the Mosaic Law was essentially a sojourning provision given to sustain and maintain a repentant and believing heart within a corporate community.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (i.e. Mosaic Law) or the Prophets (who expounded on Mosaic Law); I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (when the Kingdom is established).  18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (i.e. the Mosaic Law is unto the accomplishment of everything—the Messianic Kingdom when the order of transgression “passes away”).  19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments (of the Mosaic Law) and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (of which the Mosaic Law was meant to exemplify).  20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness (concerning the Mosaic Law) exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (i.e. Pharisees et al. were not actually following Mosaic Law, cf. Mt. 15:3ff; Mk. 7:6-13).  21 You have heard that it was said to those of old (cf. Mosaic Law), “You shall not murder…”  22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment (in the Kingdom, of which the Law prophesied)… (ESV Matthew 5:17-22)

(2)    Moreover, the land of Canaan was also given to the descendants of Abraham as a sojourning provision to strengthen them in the coming of the Anointed Seed.

The LORD said to Moses,  2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” (NIV Numbers 13:1-2)

Keep all these commands that I give you today.  2 When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster.  3 Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. (NIV Deuteronomy 27:1-3)

(3)    The Mosaic Law is thus something of a “tarrying mechanism” concerned with righteous waiting and tarrying in this age before the Day of the Lord.  It is mostly concerned with preserving a people in order and well being before the resurrection (cf. Deut. 29:9; Jos. 1:6-8; 1 Ki. 2:3; 1 Ch. 22:13).

Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (NIV Joshua 1:7-8)

C.   Summary and Conclusions

1.    Since the Mosaic Covenant is a corporate reiteration of the Abrahamic Covenant, its purpose is likewise to set apart as holy a nation among the nations of the earth to inherit the promises of the Adamic Covenant at the coming of the Messianic Seed.  Thus, the nation of Israel is essentially the nation chosen by God for cultivation in righteousness unto inclusion in the Messianic Kingdom.

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (NIV Deuteronomy 7:6)

But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,  9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you (cf. ingathering at the coming of Messiah, Is. 11:1-12; Jer. 23:5-8; Ez. 37:21-25; Hos. 3:4-5)… 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all… 15 See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff (under the leadership of the Messiah, cf. 42:1-4; Dan. 7:27; etc.). (NIV Isaiah 41:8-15)

Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel11 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven12 but the sons of the kingdom (Gk. huios, “children” KJV, “subjects” NIV, “heirs” NRSV) will be cast out into the outer darkness.” (NASB Matthew 8:10-12)

2.    Contrary to most modern scholarship, the Mosaic Covenant was not an end in itself.  To this day it has not been “fulfilled”, nor has it “passed away”.  Rather, the “treasured possession” refers to the Kingdom inaugurated by the Messiah at the end of the age.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord (Hb. adōne, i.e. Messiah) you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant (Mosaic fulfilled in the Messianic), whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty… 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty (implying Mosaic laws testify to eschatological judgment)…

17 They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.  18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.  4:1 Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire… 4 Remember the law of my servant Moses (the prophetic witness of the messianic law/judgment), the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.  5 See, I will send you the prophet Elijah (for the same purpose as the law) before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. (NIV Malachi 3:1-4:5)

3.    Thus, the Mosaic Covenant and Law is still effective and useful for believers, Jew and Gentile alike.

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (NIV Romans 3:31)

a)    As decreed by the Jerusalem Council concerning the Gentiles.

We should write to them (Gentiles), telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols (cf. Lev. 17:8-9; 1 Cor. 8-10), from sexual immorality (cf. Lev. 18:6-20), from the meat of strangled animals (cf. Lev. 17:13-14) and from blood (cf. Lev. 17:10-12).  21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath… 23 they sent the following letter… 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things (cf. “everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial” 1 Cor. 10:23).[4] Farewell.  (NIV Acts 15:20-29)

b)    As observed by Paul immediately following the Jerusalem Council.

He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived… 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. (NIV Acts 16:1-4)

c)    As confirmed by Paul in response to the claim of antinomianism.

When they (elders of Jerusalem) heard this (ministry among the Gentiles), they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision (cf. Jerusalem Council) that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”  26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them (without deceit). (NIV Acts 21:18-26)

d)    As exhorted by Paul in his pastoral epistles.

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” … 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! … 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. (NIV Romans 7:7-14)

They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.  8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,  10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers– and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine  11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (NIV 1 Timothy 1:7-11)


[1] The Hebrew word qum means “to rise, arise, stand, rise up, stand up” (Strong’s), which is the basis for the translation “confirm,” since the Abrahamic Covenant is “raised/stood up” at Sinai, so to say, and is made strong in the hearts of the Israelites.  Note also the English definition of “confirm”: “1) Establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts, 2) Strengthen or make more firm.” (HyperDictionary.com, “Confirm,” available from http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=confirm).

[2] Mosaic Law was meant to curb external transgression by revealing internal sin (cf. Rom. 3:19-20).  It does this because external actions reveal the internal reality (cf. Mt. 12:34f).  Thus, when all the secrets of men’s hearts are revealed in the Kingdom (cf. Rom. 2:12-16), the Mosaic Law will find fulfillment.  The Kingdom will be governed based on purity, righteousness, and benevolence—the revelation of which is the ultimate purpose of the Mosaic Law.

[3] Gk. tw/n mello,ntwn (verb participle present active genitive neuter plural): “me,llw (before an inf.) be going, be about, intend; must, be destined; (ptc. without inf.) coming, future; (finite verb without inf.) delay, wait.” (UBS, italics mine.)

[4] “By not attending temple banquets, or being involved in fornication, or eating meat with blood in it, the Gentile Christians would be maintaining high moral standards and would keep from offending their Jewish brothers. There were Jews in every city who would be offended by Christians not following these strictures.” [John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983-1985), 2:396.]

DAVIDIC COVENANT

DAVIDIC COVENANT

A.    Introduction and Narrative Context

1.    The Davidic Covenant, as specifically articulated by the prophet Nathan (cf. 2 Sam. 7:5-16; 1 Chr. 17:4-14), is initially presented within the context of the Mosaic Covenant.  Elsewhere, the Davidic Covenant is clearly portrayed within the context to the Mosaic Covenant (cf. 1 Kings 2:4; 8:25; 9:4-9; 1 Chr. 28:7; 29:19; Ps. 89:30f; 132:12).

This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?  6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling (cf. Mosaic tabernacle)… 8 This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel (initiated at Abraham, reaffirmed at Sinai).  (NIV 2 Samuel 7:5-8)

  • When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.  2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth… 3 observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go,  4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me. (NIV 1 Kings 2:1-4)
  • When Solomon had finished building the temple… 2 the LORD appeared to him a second time (cf. 1 Ki. 3:5-14)… 4 “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness (according to Mosaic Law), as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father… (NIV 1 Kings 9:2-5)

2.    As the Sinaitic Covenant assumed the Abrahamic Covenant, and all the stipulations and benefits therein, so also does the Davidic Covenant assume to be under its overarching umbrella.  The “fathers” are referred to repeatedly, specifically within the covenant itself and later in reference to the covenant.

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. (NIV 2 Samuel 7:12)

David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel (i.e. Jacob), from everlasting to everlasting… 15 We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers18 O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees… (NIV 1 Chronicles 29:10-19)

3.    Thus, the Davidic Covenant could be seen as a personal reiteration of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, promising to David a “great name,” a land for Israel, and a successive Seed with an everlasting Kingdom.[1]  Moreover, it serves as an elaboration concerning the benefits of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants.

9 I will make your name great (cf. Gen. 12:2; 18:18)…

10 I will provide a place for my people Israel (cf. Gen. 15:18; Deut. 11:24-25)…

11 I will also give you rest from all your enemies (cf. Deut. 12:9; Jos. 21:44-45)…

12 I will raise up your offspring (“seed” KJV/NKJV) to succeed you (cf. Gen. 17:7)…

13 He (the Seed) is the one who will build a house for my Name (cf. 1 Ki. 8:18-20)…

14 I will be his (the Seed’s) father, and he will be my son (cf. Ex. 4:22-23)…

16 Your house and your kingdom (under the Seed) will endure forever before me (cf. Gen. 17:8; 49:10)…[2]

4.             Like the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, the David Covenant assumes as its center and ultimate purpose the restoration of the Adamic Covenant and the coming of the Genesis 3:15, Messianic Seed, in whom all the nations of the earth will be restored to the original position of favor and blessing with God in the resurrection.[3]

Of Ethan the Ezrahite (Davidic worship leader, 1 Ki. 4:31; 1 Chr. 15:17, 19)… 3 “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David:  4Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.’ … 24 My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, and in My name his horn shall be exalted (cf. 1 Sam. 2:10; Lk. 1:68-70)… 27 Also I will make him My firstborn (cf. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:6), the highest of the kings of the earth28 My mercy (Hb. hesed, “covenant faithfulness”) I will keep for him forever (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16), and My covenant shall stand firm with him. (NKJV Psalm 89:1-28)

A song of ascent (of David, Ps. 122, 124, 131, 133, or Solomon, Ps. 127)… 11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne…” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:  14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell (Hb. yashab, “sit enthroned” NIV), for I have desired it… 17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed (Hb. mashiyach).  18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.” (ESV Psalm 132:1-18)

5.    Moreover, the response and prayer of David reveals his understanding that the promise related to the Messianic Seed and the restoration of humanity as a whole.

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I (implying the perceived grandeur of the prophecy), O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far (to lead the nation to be chosen for the Kingdom)?  19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant (i.e. messianic destiny, cf. “your throne will be established forever”, v.16). Is this your usual way of dealing (Hb. torah)[4] with man (Hb. adam), O Sovereign LORD? (NIV 2 Samuel 7:18-19)

  • And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction (Hb. torah) for mankind (Hb. adam, i.e. concerning its redemption), O Lord GOD!” (ESV 2 Samuel 7:18-19)

a)    Future Old Testament prophets identify the Davidic Covenant as primarily relating to the Adamic Covenant and Messianic Seed.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. (ESV Isaiah 9:6-7)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him… 4 He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist… 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. (NIV Isaiah 11:1-10)

b)    The New Testament also confirms the centrality of the Messianic Seed to the Davidic Covenant.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (“Messiah,” NLT), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham… (NIV Matthew 1:1)

Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people,  69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began. (NKJV Luke 1:68-70)

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone (all of Adam’s descendants) for what he has done… 16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (ESV Revelation 22:12-16)

B.    Covenantal Format

1.    Benefits/Inheritance

a)    Like the Adamic, Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, the Davidic Covenant assumes the ultimate benefit of eternal life and the propagation of infinite well-being through intimacy with the Godhead, which is symbolized by the building of the Temple.

I will raise up your offspring to succeed you… 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (NIV 2 Samuel 7:12-13)

When Solomon had finished building the temple… 3 The LORD said to him: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there (because it is a precursor to the Messianic Temple). (NIV 1 Kings 9:1-3)

  • Here is the man whose name is the Branch (messianic title for Davidic descendant, cf. Is. 4:2; 11:1; Jer. 23:5; 33:15), and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD13 It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. (NIV Zechariah 6:12-13)

b)    Moreover, like the previous covenants, the Davidic Covenant assumes the benefits of the original Adamic Order through the resurrection and Kingdom, but now has a defined governmental family and capital.

Yet the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel (implying his own resurrection, so as to be king forever). (NIV 1 Chronicles 28:4)

(Solomon speaking to the Assembly) For he said,  5 “Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built for my Name to be there… 6 But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.” (NIV 2 Chronicles 6:4-6)

  • In that day (when Israel is restored to the land, v.3), declares the LORD Almighty, I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them.  9 Instead, they will serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (NIV Jeremiah 30:3-9)
  • I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. (NIV Ezekiel 34:23-24)

2.    Stipulations/Obligations

a)    Like the previous covenants, the Davidic Covenant also assumes the ultimate stipulation of governmental submission concerning the knowledge of good versus evil.  Thus, David is portrayed as “a man after [God’s] own heart.” (1 Sam. 13:14)

Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (ESV 1 Samuel 13:13-14)

b)    Moreover, the Davidic Covenant assumes the same stipulations of repentance and belief as the previous covenants, which is symbolized by the offering of sacrifices representing the acknowledgement of deserved punishment.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation… 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice (without repentance), or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;  19 then will you delight in right sacrifices (that represent a repentant heart), in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. (ESV Psalm 51:14-19)

c)    Likewise, it is assumed that the Lord’s stipulations are to preserve and protect the repentant heart and provide the atonement and righteousness necessary for the inheritance of the blessing.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (concerning Bathsheba)… 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation (in the resurrection and Kingdom of the Seed), and uphold me with a willing spirit14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation… (ESV Psalm 51:4-14)

C.   Summary and Conclusions

1.    The purpose of the Davidic Covenant is to specify the capital of the coming Kingdom and the particular family within the descendants of Abraham that would bring forth the Messiah.  It is a personal reiteration of the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants, assuming the benefit of the original Adamic Order.

2.    Thus, David is essentially a man chosen to receive the Kingdom, among a nation chosen to receive the Kingdom.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,  10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay (cf. Acts 2:31; 13:35).  11 You have made known to me the path of life (i.e. resurrection); you will fill me with joy in your presence (at the coming of Messiah), with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (NIV Psalm 16:6-11)

3.    Like the Abrahamic Covenant (and all covenants), the Davidic is “conditional,” contingent upon continued repentance and belief.  Again, the existence and availability of the reward/benefit is never in question; rather, it is the perseverant contrite heart that is in question, making the personal inheritance of the reward/benefit conditional.

a)    David’s initial response to Nathan’s prophecy reveals his own understanding that the inheritance of the Blessing is contingent upon his own faithfulness and the faithfulness of his descendants.

And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.  29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing (contingent upon repentance and faith) shall the house of your servant be blessed forever. (ESV 2 Samuel 7:28-29)

b)    David’s charge to his son, Solomon, reveals his understanding of the need for perseverance in repentance and faith expressed through Mosaic sacrifice.

When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.  2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth… 3 observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go,  4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me. (NIV 1 Kings 2:1-4)

c)    The Lord’s threat and David’s response to Bathsheba also reveal the conditional nature of the covenant.

This is what the LORD says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you…”  13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD (cf. Ps. 51:4-11).” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” (NIV 2 Samuel 12:11-13)

4.    Though many assume the Davidic Covenant to have been fulfilled variously at Jesus’ birth (cf. Lk. 1:68-70), resurrection (cf. Acts 13:34) or ascension (cf. Acts 2:30-35), it is clear—even in the larger context of the passages cited as proof of fulfillment—that the Davidic Covenant is fulfilled eschatologically at the second coming of Messiah.

a)    The Council of Jerusalem based there decision concerning the circumcision of the Gentiles on the future fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

And with this the words of the prophets agree (Gk. sumphōneō vs. pleroō), just as it is written,  16 “After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it,  17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name…” (ESV Acts 15:15-18)

b)    Paul specifically explains that our hope is in the future fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs  9 so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written… 12The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”  13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him (for the fulfillment of the covenants), so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NIV Romans 15:8-13)



[1] As Walter Kaiser points out in his “seven main provisions included in this promised dynasty”. [Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Messiah in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 79.]

[2] Moreover, in David’s response (vv. 18-29), he uniquely references God as “Adonai Yahweh,” a phrase used specifically in the Abrahamic Covenant—“In his prayer, five times David uses the exceptional name of God ‘Adonai Yahweh’ (2Sa 7:18, 19[bis], 22, 28, 29).  Nowhere else does this compounded form of the name of God appear in Samuel or Chronicles.  The special significance of this name, R. A. Carlson points out, is that this is the name God uses when he promised Abraham a “seed” in Genesis 15:2, 8.  Its repeated use here is too striking to be an accident; David wants to show that what God is telling him is indeed part of the same promise-plan that was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Ibid., 80.)  The other five instances of “Adonai Yahweh” are Deut. 3:24; 9:26; Jos. 7:7; Jdg 6:22; 16:28.  In Kings the double name occurs only in 1 Ki. 2:26; 8:53.

[3] “Thus, we move from the ‘seed of the woman,’ who will be victorious over Satan, to the ‘seed of Abraham,’ who will be a blessing to all the earth, to the ‘seed of David,’ who will have a rule that will never end.” (Ibid., 83.)

[4] “One of the most astonishing mistranslations in most versions, including the NIV, is verse 19.  The NIV renders it, ‘Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD?’  The Hebrew reads: wezōt tôrat hā’ādām.  The word tôrat, ‘law, charter,’ or the like, is rendered in the NIV as ‘your usual way of dealing with.’  Like Alice said to Humpty Dumpty, ‘That’s an awful lot to make one word mean.’  Indeed it is, in spite of my vigorous protests over the years.” (Ibid., 79-80, n. 16.)

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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