Sunday, February 8, 2009

Covenant Theology Part 1

Of Covenants in General listen here

Major Theme of Scripture: The Kingdom of God offered to man by way of covenant.

Covenant is from the Hebrew [ber-eeth] meaning to cut, and by extension means a promise or pledge to do something. "It is an agreement upon the promises concerning the relationship between two or more parties. In Biblical terms the covenant is the prime agency of God's self-revelation in history. God reveals Himself to be the covenant God. The essence of the covenant between God and man is "I will be your God, and you will be My people."

Covenant makeup:
Historical prologue
New order

Treaty Between Equals - PARITY COVENANT (bi-lateral)

A. Partners in the covenant are called brothers.
B. Stipulations:
1. Acknowledgment of mutual boundaries.
2. Return of each others run away slaves.
C. Biblical Examples:
1. Midianite Treaty - Exodus 18
2. Between King David and King Hiram - 1 Kings 5:1ff
3. Genesis 21:27; 26:31; 31: 44-54; 1 Kings 15:19; 20:32-34.

Treaty Between a Great King and a Minor King - SUZERAIN or VASSAL COVENANT

1. Preamble - This included the titles and attributes of the Great King and serves to introduce the document.
2. Historical Prologue - Summary of the relationship between the two kings and their ancestors. Actual historical events are cited, especially those that were benevolent on the part of the Great King.
3. Stipulations:

A. Exclusive relationship between the two kings
B. Hostility prohibited against other vassals of the Great King
C. Help in time of war - both ways
D. Slander against the Great King reported
E. Return runaway slaves
F. Vassal to appear yearly to renew the covenant and pay his taxes
G. The covenant is to be written down and placed in the temple of the vassal
H. Covenant to be read periodically

4. Blessings and Curses

A. List of gods called to witness the document
B. Sometimes natural phenomena are also called as witnesses to the document
C. Curses go into effect if the covenant is broken and the Blessings if it is kept
D. One of the blessings was usually a guarantee of the perpetual reign of the descendants of the vassal king
B. Biblical Examples:

1. Gibeonite Treaty - Joshua 9-10
2. Covenant at Mt. Sinai - Exodus 20, Deuteronomy
3. Davidic Covenant - 2 Samuel 7
4. Genesis 17:1ff; Ezekiel 17:13-18; Hosea 12:1.
2 Kings 24:1, 1 Kings 17:3

Treaty Between a King and a loyal servant - ROYAL GRANT COVENANT

A. Royal Land Grants were given to a servant or subordinate for faithful or exceptional service to the king
1. This type of covenant was usually perpetual with no specific conditions. It was, however, understood that the behavior of the heirs would continue to follow the original recipient's loyal example.
2. Most covenants of this type contained the same kind of blessings and curses found in the Vassal Covenant with gods being called on as witnesses.
B. Biblical Examples:
1. Noahic Covenant - Genesis 9:8-17
2. Abrahamic Covenant - Genesis 15: 9-12
3. New Covenant - Jeremiah 31:31-44
4. Numbers 25:10-31; 1 Samuel 8:14; 22:7; 27:6; 2 Samuel 7:5-16; Esther 8:1.

Of the Covenant of Works (fodeus operum) listen here

Of the Contracting Parties in the Covenant of Works:
God as the Suzerain King makes covenant with Adam the vassals servant. This covenant not only is non-negotiable on the part of Man (as represented by Adam) but it is essential to being the Image bearer of God. God enthroned Himself over creation and entered into His eternal Sabbath. The image bearer is to designed to obtain the same blessedness by the same means, that is work. Gen 1-2

Of the Law or Condition of the Covenant of Works:
The covenant was conditional Hos 6:7 The conditioned contained Adam keeping the law of the conscience Rom 2:15, not eating of the tree of Knowledge and taken dominion Gen 1:26-28

Of the Promises of the Covenant of Works:
The promise of eternal life was offered Man if he was to fulfill all the terms of the covenant. Eternal life is glorification. Glorification is abiding where God is enthroned over creation. This was represented by the tree life which served as a pledge of that future inheritance.

Of the Penal Sanction:
God threatens Adam with the curse of being under the wrath of God if he does not keep the terms of the Covenant Gen 2:15-17. This is represent with the tree of Knowledge.

Of the Sacraments of the Covenant of Works:
The Tree of Life is sacramental of eternal life. Access to this tree would have be granted to Adam upon confirmation of justification Rev 22:2,19. The Tree of Knowledge is sacramental of eternal damnation. Adam ate of this tree as and violates the Covenant of works.

Of the First Sabbath:
The first Sabbath is sacramental of the eternal Sabbath rest that man could one day enjoy if he had kept the Covenant of Works. It served as a reminder of that future inheritance.

Of the Violation of the Covenant of Works on the part of Man:
Adam by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge violated the Covenant Works; consequently placing himself and his posterity under the curse of God, resulting in amenity between man and God.

Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works on the part of God:
Although man, because of the transgression Adam, is now incapable of keeping the demands of the Covenant man is still obligated to keep the Covenant. The Covenant is a reflection of God’s immutable character therefore it is irrevocable.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post Jonathan, very helpful, simple outline.

    Are you going to continue this series? I'm a baptist currently trying to work out covenant theology (I've come across some of your posts on the puritanboard about it) and I'd love to see how you have fleshed it out.


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