The Christ of the Covenants: Chapter 3 (The Unity of the Divine Covenants)

The Mosaic and Davidic covenants are grounded in the Abrahamic.

  • When Israel cried out to God because of its bondage in Egypt, God heard their groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham (Exod. 2.24, 6.4-8).
  • Scripture repeatedly shows historical anticipation of a covenantal relationship prior to the formalizing ceremony:
    • God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and declared to him the promises of the covenant (Gen. 12.1). But the covenant bond wasn’t formally instituted until Gen. 15.18.
    • God designated David as anointed king of Israel (1 Sam. 16.12) prior to his inauguration (2 Sam. 7.1).
    • Christ’s incarnation and public ministry preceded the realization of the promise of the new covenant (cf. Luke 22.20).
    • Therefore, the Mosaic Covenant formalizes what was promised beforehand, but does not negate it (cf. Gal. 3.17).
  • David recognizes the Mosaic foundation for his covenant.
    • The God who instituted his covenant with David is the same God who “brought the sons of Israel from Egypt” (2 Sam. 7.6).
    • He directed Solomon to keep the law of Moses so that the Lord “may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me” (1 Kings 2.3).
  • Moses pleaded for God’s mercy on Israel (in light of the golden calf incident) on account of his promises to Abraham (Exod. 32.13, 14), not merely on account of the covenant at Sinai.
  • David localizes worship since the Mosaic law required a centralized sanctuary (Deut. 12.5, 11, 14, 18, etc.).
  • Israel’s devastation is understood in light of the Mosaic covenant (2 Kings 17.13), even though the Davidic covenant was already in effect.

God’s covenants are genealogical.

  • Deut. 5.2, 3 and 29.14 affirms the eternal nature of the Mosaic covenant. The genealogical emphasis contains the idea of eternal succession (cf. Deut. 7.9; Acts 3.25).
  • The “seed” concept appears in Gen. 15.18; Exod. 20.5, 6; Deut. 7.9; and 2 Sam. 7.12.
  • David’s son is not simply heir of the Davidic covenant, but the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants as well.
  • Eternal succession includes both grafting and pruning of Israel. People of any nation could become Israelites in the fullest sense, just as the people of Israel could be cut off. However, this does not nullify genealogical succession as the ordinary means by which one becomes part of Israel. “The grace of God in salvation is not against creation’s order; it is against sin.” (p. 40)

The new covenant is similar to the Mosaic covenant in substance/essence (the law of God), but different in mode/form (internal vs. external). Ezekiel relates all the covenants by looking forward to a day in which “my servant David will be king over them, and they will have one shepherd (cf. Davidic covenant), and they will walk in my ordinances, and keep my statutes, and observe them (cf. Mosaic covenant). And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived (cf. Abrahamic covenant) … and I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them (cf. new covenant).” (Ezek. 37.24-26)

In OT history, the provisions and expectations of the new covenant never were realized. Despite small-scale restorations, Israel nonetheless awaited a restoration of the magnitude envisioned by the prophets. The Lord’s Supper (Luke 22.20; cf. 1 Cor. 11.25; Heb. 8.6-13; 10.15-18) is the inauguration ceremony of the new covenant, and the cross is its fulfillment.

The “Immanuel principle” of the divine covenants is that each conveys “God with us.” Note the repetition of the phrase, “I shall be your God, and you shall be My people.”

  • Appears explicitly in connection to Abrahamic (Gen. 17.7), Mosaic (Exod. 6.6-7; 19.4-5; Lev. 11.45; Deut. 4.20; 29.13), Davidic (2 Kings 11.17; 2 Chr. 23.16; Ezek. 34.24) and new covenants (Zech. 2.11; 8.8, 16; 2 Cor. 6.16; Heb. 8.10; cf. Eph. 4.25).
  • God’s association with his people is related to his presence in the midst of his people. Tabernacle (John 1.14) becomes temple (Eph. 2.21) becomes city of God (Rev. 7.15). Isaiah finds the climax of God’s presence in a single person (Isa. 42.6; cf. Isa. 49.8; 55.3-4). Hence, incarnate Christ becomes the church becomes the glorification of God’s people.
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