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5/1 Hearing God’s Great Rescue Plan for Mankind

In this new series of posts on Hearing your Creator’s voice, we want to examine how Jehovah established relationships with the people He created.  To do this, He set up ‘covenants’.  These were contracts made with individuals, laying out what He guaranteed IF they kept the terms of the Covenant.  We can find evidence of NINE MAJOR COVENANTS He has made with individuals from the Bible.

As the Author and researcher of this series, I have been astonished again at the perfection and planning of our Creator.  Before the beginning of time, the plans set out for the human race were logic, sequential – nothing was left outside the Great Creator’s fore-knowledge or awareness.  It has been this detailed working behind the scenes of human history that has made a deep impression on my own faith and trust in this Supreme Creator that we call God.

All the truths that we hold basic and sound are found in the beginning of history, in  the book of Genesis.  This is why many scholars call Genesis ‘the seed book’.  All the truths that the rest of the 66 books of the Bible build on can be found in Genesis.

The word ‘covenant’ has lost much of its deeper meaning and significance in present society.  Once the word meant promise, commitment, faithfulness and loyalty even until death.  In Bible times, the person was only as good as their word.  In a society where national agreements, business contracts and marriage covenants are under stress and attack, it is good to know that our God is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God.  He is true to His word!

PART 1.  BACKGROUND TO COVENANTS

      Key Point: We can see that our Creator is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping and covenant-revealing God. The whole Bible itself is a divine covenant between the God of the universe and us, as humans. 

      This Divinely inspired Book is divided into two sections: the Old Covenant and the New Covenant which we call the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

     Through these writings in 66 books, we see the purposes of God in both Creation and Redemption, involving time and eternity reflected in these two Testaments. 

A.  INTRODUCTION

How does the Rightful Creator of the Universe introduce Himself to a blinded, willful Creation?  After all, He is Jehovah God, the One who sets out the balances between the great waters of the Earth and the land.  He was the One who created the dinosaurs, the fragile butterfly and the hippopotamus.

How does this all-powerful, all-knowing, eternally existing Creator deal with mankind?  How does He deal with those who, although deceived and blinded to His existence, gave away their birthright?

 How does He who is Infinite, who rules the heavens in love, be comprehended by a fragile, finite clay vessel?  How can He reach the wicked, deceived heart and bring reality to His creation – all without breaking man’s will or damaging their already corrupted spirit?  Yes, how indeed?  This is part of why we begin this study on the Covenants.

 

B.  CREATOR GOD IS AFTER RESTORATION

 The Old Testament is a long, sad story of beginnings of Israel’s history.  Unfortunately it is not a tale of what should have happened, or even of what could have been, had the people trusted God.  Nor is it is the story of what God wanted to happen, but the Old Testament tells us what actually did happen.  God knew mankind would not – or perhaps even could not – trust Him.

 1.  God’s Great Rescue Plan

 We must remember that even before God spoke the World into existence, He had a Plan.  When sin entered the Earth through Adam and Eve’s actions, their relationship with Creator God was broken.  Throughout the last almost 7,000 years, God’s plan has been to restore and even inspire His creation.

 By studying the Covenants, we can have an overview of this restoration process.  The history of God’s dealings with His people can be divided into nine major blocks, or ‘chapters’, each with its own purpose and promises, each building on the other.

 2.  With each of these covenants, we shall present a setting for the drama that required a new agreement between the Creator and Mankind.  It was also during these times that the Creator revealed more of His character and nature by revealing a ‘Name’ for Himself.  So we begin:

 

“It was a time before even time had begun.  This was a space before even ‘space’ existed.   There was only One, constant all-knowing, all-present Being in this point of life.  We give the name ‘God’ to this Person.  Being neither male nor female, this Being would not ‘pro-create’ as we know it.  There were different images happening in the Mind of this Everlasting Being.

What would it be like to share my realm with other beings, sharing and working together as a ‘family’?   …to have ones who would grow and ‘love’ and help ‘evolve this place into life?  They would have to have free will, free choice….to love or not to love….

…..and so this Being began to plan, to design and to see through the logical ends of these plans. 

‘To have free will means ….testing and some of these beings will not follow the good that I lay out.  Could I possibly allow the perfection of My creation to be challenged, corrupt, spoiled and eventually come to a place of utter destruction?   …but it must be so it I allow free will to be the deciding factor.  Is it worth all the pain and ruin, all the tremendous suffering these people would go through to find My solution….and turn to follow My path?

Again the divine Architect, who could see the ends from the beginnings, decided that ‘…..yes, it would be worth it!’   …and so, the Creator spoke and the whole universe changed….and so our story begins.

 

2.  God made Covenants with Chosen Individuals:  We can find at least 9 major covenants God made with individuals:

            a)  First, with Man in the Garden of Eden – an Age of Innocence,

            b)  With Adam and Eve, after sin entered the Garden – an Age of Conscience.

            c)  Next, a Covenant between God and Noah, after the Great Flood – an Age of Human Government,

            d)  With Abraham, the Father of the Nation of Israel, and on to his sons – an Age of Promise,

            e)  With Moses, ‘the Lawgiver’ after Israel left Egypt – an Age of Law,

            f)  The Covenant with Joshua as they entered the Promised Land – an Age of Conquest and Settlement,

            g)  With King David, as God set up the kingdom, and onto the nation – an Age of Prosperity and Growth,

            h)  The New Covenant with the Lord Jesus – an Age of Salvation for the Church and the Preparation of the Bride,

            i)  The Everlasting Covenant, for the Eternity of all Mankind – an Age of Judgement and Restoration, fulfilling the eternal purposes of God.

3.  Restoration was and still is being built in steps

Each covenant adds another step to His plans for the complete restoration of mankind.  We find the first covenatnt with Adam and God’s purposes follow upwards until eternity begins:

 

                                                      The Eternal Purposes of God

                                                  God’s New Covenant with Jesus

                                           David establishes the Kingdom

                                    Joshua settles the Promised Land

                           Moses was given the Law

                   Abraham became the father of a new Nation

            Flood cleanses the Earth, promises to Noah

       Adam regains some dignity through his covenant

   Sin entered and Relationship with God was broken         

Perfect yet untried man and woman in the Garden of Eden

4.  All the Covenants Point to the ‘Messiah’ – the One who would rescue Humans from their own damnation, the ‘Christ’, the Anointed One.

The Creator had the right to blot out Adam and begin again.  However God chose not to.  In fact, it was through the great rebellion of Adam and Eve that God brought His first promise of rescue, Genesis3:15.  This ‘seed covenant’ sets the tone for all successive covenants, by prophesying the ‘Promised One’ to come one day.  Through His Christ, God promises to redeem the human race, to judge Satan and to heal the whole of mankind.

 

C.  UNDERSTANDING WHAT COVENANTS ARE ALL ABOUT

1.  Jehovah is a Covenant making God

To our 21st century mind, a ‘covenant’ is merely a legal document, stating the terms of agreement between two people.  To the Hebrew mind, however, the concept of covenant was a binding agreement for all relationships.  In an Old Testament covenant, the stronger party agrees to protect and bless the weaker party, no matter what.

Covenants are a reoccurring and important theme in both the Old and New Testaments.  God successfully establishes His agreement with the Man He had created.  God Himself pronounced the creation “Good!”

The first couple were not ‘perfect’; Adam and Eve were innocent, untested, untried by the fires of temptation.  To be an “Overcomer” is to survive these fires of temptation, to overcome the Evil One.

2.  So What is a Covenant?

            a)  The Greek ‘diatheke’ is a disposition, arrangement, a testament; a stated will, ’to put together’ a set purpose between one person towards others.

            b)  In English, a covenant is a mutual, binding and solemn agreement, a legal contract between two or more parties to fulfill specific obligations.

            c)  ‘Covenant’ is also the arrangement/s made and instituted by God toward the human race, which man may or may not reject, but cannot change.  Although these agreement/s are often one-way or broken by mankind, God is always faithful to keep His side of the understanding.

3.  Who Made the Covenants and Why?

Jehovah God was always the initiator.  Acting with mercy and sovereignty, He formed the covenant with one person.  God would search for that unique person who would be obedient to God’s revelation.  Through this one faithful person, God could then reach a whole group of people for Himself.

Each covenant gave the people a new revelation of the unseen, eternal Jehovah, exposing His character in a clearer light.  Often this included an expanded view of His moral and social stipulations, what He expected from His people.  He continues to depict His character and nature by revealing to His people one of His intimate names.  See the post on the Names of God.

In secular life, covenants were usually made between equals.  However some covenants were made between a more powerful nation and that of a weaker party, for the benefit of the weaker party.  This might include protection from similar enemies, provision when the need came or even the interchange of marriage partners or of skilled workman for the benefit of the greater party. 

The religious terms of Jehovah’s covenants imply a relationship between a greater partner – God – and a lesser partner – mankind.  There is an exchange of understanding based on His knowledge of our weaknesses and our need for His greater supply.

D.  THE ESSENTIAL PARTS OF A COVENANT:

Most Biblical Covenants have three major parts:

 1.  The Words of the Covenant, either verbal or written:

a)  The purposes, terms, conditions, stipulations or promises given if the agreement was kept,

b)  An irrevocable oath was spoken to further bind the parties concerned,

c)  The results or consequences to the ‘oath-breakers’ if they broke the  covenant, usually spoken of as a ‘curse’, as mankind was unable to stop the results from happening,

d)  A record of the covenant, usually a scroll or a book was used to record the proceedings.   All the covenants of God are recorded in scriptures, especially  the longest, most complex covenant made with Moses.

 2.  The Blood Sacrifice was required:

In times long gone by, Covenants were viewed as a life and death commitment.  The agreement were further sealed by:

a)  The death of a living creature, whose body and blood is used in some form of ceremony,

b)  Some official mediator who performs the ritual / ceremony with the dead animal and it’s blood, ie. the priest, a high priest or some priesthood group.

c)  A sanctuary, a place of meeting where the ceremony takes place, usually a temple, tabernacle, an altar or sacred place.

d)  An alter to symbolise the sacrificial purpose.

3.  Thirdly, some Seal was given:

This was given for the tangible, ‘locking in’ of the covenant.  It was usually a visible, outward sign or symbol of that agreement, either a s a deal, a sign or a token as a constant reminder of the authenticity  of the .

As we go through each of these Nine Covenants, we shall see the pattern set out by God to match all three of these parts.

4.   The Length of the Covenants:

The covenants were either ‘irrevocable’ which means that God fulfills the conditions regardless of man’s response.  Some are ‘revocable’ which means that God fulfils the promises ONLY IF man obeys.

Some covenants were ‘everlasting’ – never ending, legally binding throughout eternity.  Others were ‘temporal’ – made for a limited time, until fulfilled by other means and then to be abolished.  Such short-term covenants were usually fragments of other covenants or were part of the progressive, unfolding nature of God.

 

E.  WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS STUDY ON THE COVENANTS OF GOD? 

In studying the Old and New Testament Covenants God has given to Mankind, we can learn many important truths about the invisible God we worship:

1.  The covenants give us a progressive, intimate revelation of our Creator’s nature and character through His dealings with mankind. This revelation has been constantly enfolding to help humans gain an understanding of the infinite Jehovah.

2.  We can gain an overview of the history of Israel, His chosen nation to reveal His nature and character.  This gives us an example of the tragic tale for the whole human race.  We can see the results when Israel broke the covenant relationships and the results for the whole nation.  This mirrors the consequences in our own life when we turn and rebel, going into our own wilderness experience. 1 Corinthians 10:6 encourages us to learn to avoid the same mistakes.

3.  This mirrors the consequences in our own life when we turn and rebel, going into our own wilderness experience.  1 Corinthians 10:6 encourages us to learn to avoid the same mistakes.  I deeply believe that we all began with the Creator before our conception into this Earthly existence.  We all have free will and choice and so, must make the journey to return to our Creator or to go our own way into rebellion and defiance of this God of love.

——- > However this is such an important subject, look of the later post on this topic!

4.  We view the progressive redemptive story of mankind, as God paints His side of the story – the reasons why Jehovah acted as He did.  These agreements give us a glimpse of His true character and nature.

Since only God Himself was capable of meeting these requirements, He had to become Flesh, John 1:1.  Jesus became the fulfilment of all the covenant’s requirements, including the sacrificial offering, thus meeting holy Jehovah’s requirements.

5.  Each covenant adds foundational truths about Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ and about His character and nature. 

 

F.  IN CONCLUSION:

The main reason for studying the concept of covenants when Hearing our Creator’s Voice is to see the sense of commitment and the inter-personal relationship between the Creator and the Created –  us!  Therefore, every covenant teaches us something about the majesty and greatness of the God who calls us into relationship.

As we finish this first post, we have laid out the foundations for the Nine Major Covenants God made with people to establish a relationship with them.  Join us for our next post when we begin with the first Covenant – the Agreement between God and the man called Adam.

Seeing the patterns in Creator God’s Plans for us as His creation has built my own faith as few other series or studies has done.  Much of this material has come from my own study, especially using the excellent book of Dr. Kevin Conner and Ken Malmin, called ‘The Covenants of God’.  May you also find your own faith is built and expanded as you see the thoughtful, amazing work of God reaching us through His Covenants.

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author

www.hearinggod.mentorsnotebook.com/blog

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