God’s Covenants and Curses

D. D. Edwards                12/16/2018

When talking about the covenants we need to remember the import of these agreements is the fact that they are between God and man, not man and man.

In point of fact the covenants are absolutely foundational to God’s relationship with man and to His sovereign plan for the ages.  Indeed this is how God chose to ultimately resolve this relationship which had been marred by man’s rebellion.

While explicitly stated in the Old Testament, the covenants permeate all of God’s Word. God’s relationship with man is both relational and covenantal.  From the covenants flows the scarlet thread of redemption for mankind.

Two Types of Covenants

Understand there are two types of covenants; conditional or unconditional.

A conditional covenant is deemed broken if one party does not comply with the conditions set forth.  Simply put it is a covenant that states, “If you do this, then I will do thus.” This is opposed to an unconditional covenant which says, “No matter what you do (or don’t do), I still will do what I promised!”

God instituted a total of eight covenants.[1]  They are, except for the Edenic and Mosaic, all literal, all eternal, all unilateral, and all unconditional.

The paramount covenant is the Abrahamic Covenant which is the foundation; not only of Old Testament theology but New Testament theology and Christ’s Gospel as well! It sets out God’s grace to all men in every epoch and is the foundation of the covenants which come after it.

The Mosaic Covenant brought God’s Law to man (the Ten Commandments; Exodus 31:16-18).  But the Law was merely a mirror, to illuminate and to reflect man’s sin and has no intrinsic salvific value.

Succeeding the Mosaic Covenant were the Abrahamic, then the Palestinian Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.[2]

All of the later covenants flow from the Abrahamic Covenant.  Like the Abrahamic Covenant, God made them unilateral, eternal, and unconditional. Therefore God will not; cannot break them regardless of the actions of men.

It should be understood that total fulfillment of the covenants will not take place until after Christ’s Second Coming.  Moreover these covenants are both corporeal and spiritual.

Israel is Still “Chosen”

The corporeal or physical covenantal elements are for and can be fulfilled only by Israel.  They are limited only to Israel (mysterium supremum).  On the other hand only the spiritual elements of the covenants encompass the Church.

In other words, God demonstrates His decision to graft Gentiles into the spiritual stock of Abraham (cf. Romans 4:12, 16-17). Nonetheless the Church in no way displaces the nation of Israel covenantally for any reason (e.g. supercessionism or Replacement Theology).

There is no arguing that Israel’s unfaithfulness repeatedly got them into spiritual hot water and brought God’s anger on them repeatedly.  Replacement Theology is a serious attack on God’s Word, not just on the Abrahamic Covenant, but on all the other covenants God put in place.

If one accepts as true that Israel has been disqualified from the promised blessings of God because of her rebellion and sin, then necessarily God’s other promises cannot be valid. It then follows that the Bible, God’s Word, is not true   The logical resultant, as Paul declared in the verse above is that the Gospel is fiction and therefore God is a liar.

The Abrahamic Covenant establishes that all men come to God by faith, not by man’s works.  It is the sine qua non or the prerequisite which is foundational for the other covenants.

Indeed it is the foundational antecedent for Christ’s work on the Cross whereby, “[I] will draw all men to Myself” (John 12: 32).

Paul spoke of this unbelief of the Jews who had “been entrusted with the oracles of God” in his letter to the Romans when he wrote:

What then?  If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?  May it never be!  Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar. (Romans 3:3-4).

Paul in his letter to Timothy writes:

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:3-5).

It was a necessary condition the Jesus Christ must die for all men, nevertheless his death is sufficient only for those who come to him and trust him as their Lord and Savior.  Only those desiring a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ will be redeemed by Him.

God uses some interesting metaphors in His condemnation of Israel.  Jeremiah calls her a,

“wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind!  Who can restrain her lust”; “As a thief is shamed . . . so the house of Israel will be shamed”;  “Where are your gods that you made . . . Let them arise, if they can save you . . . as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah (Jeremiah 2:24, 26, 28).”

And lastly “By the waysides you have sat awaiting your lovers like an Arab in the wilderness (Jeremiah 3:2 ).”

These are but a few of the invectives Jeremiah writes and why Israel is allowed to be sent into exile and bondage.  As rebellious as Israel and Judah were and are, God has not forsaken Israel—he will not break His covenants–He cannot because He is God!

Paul further affirms the legitimacy of Israel as rightful heir to the blessings of Abrahamic Covenant most emphatically and eloquently in his epistle to the Romans.  

Moreover if the Abrahamic Covenant is null and void for Israel then the work of Christ is null and void!  As Paul proclaimed, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (1 Cor. 15: 17).

God chose Abraham to be the vessel through whom He would deliver his preeminent covenantal promises.  As we will discover, ultimately all nations and all peoples are blessed through the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 18: 18).


[1] The eight covenants: 1Edenic  2Adamic  3 Noahic  4*Abrahamic  5Mosaic  6*Palestinian  7*Davidic  8*New Covenant

[2] The New Covenant is often misunderstood as only a New Testament covenant with the Church. Even worse is the premise put forth that the Church is the new Israel, but that would negate the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. Thus God is made a liar in all He has promised.

However it is the case that the New Covenant is actually made “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33.  It is new as contrasted with the Mosaic Covenant broken by Israel in the wilderness and furthermore the New Covenant’s primary fulfillment will be in the millennial kingdom.

Some have also posited that there are two new covenants. Nonetheless Dr. Robert Saucy rightly states that,

“the Scriptures, however do not reveal a separate new covenant. The blessings for the church of the indwelling Spirit and the inward law (2 Cor. 3:3-6) are the same as those promised to Israel (Jer. 31:31-34). Moreover . . . Jeremiah’s prophecy is directly applied to believers in the book of Hebrews. . . . Both Israel and the church share in this covenant, as in the Abrahamic Covenant, for the new covenant is the realization of the salvation of the Abrahamic Covenant” (Robert Saucy, The Church in God’s Program (Moody Press), 78; italics mine).

 

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