by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 November 19, 2017 Humble, Texas
4 Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises;
5 Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises;
5 whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
I. The Covenants.
A. The biblical references to covenants are numerous and the covenants are numerous.
B. The covenants that were specifically attached to Israel are divided into two groups.
1. There is the group (made of one) that contains what might be termed "conditional", or "temporary" because it was made under a larger understanding that its terms were untenable for a specific reason.
a. This group consists of the Covenant of the Law. As a "covenant", it was made between God and the nation of Israel as a kind of "national constitution" for a "theocracy" in which God would be the King and the Israelites would be the subjects of the King.
b. As a "covenant", this agreement between God and Israel was "untenable" in that it required of the subjects of the King multiple impossibilities for "sinners".
1) Because of these multiple impossibilities, the apostle Paul actually says that its real purpose was to sharply enhance the truth about man under sin (Romans 3:20).
2) Because of this most fundamental purpose (not disallowing other, lesser, purposes), the apostle is not bashful about setting it aside by means of the Gospel.
2. There is a second group that contains certain one-sided commitments made by God that have only the agreement to those commitments (by faith) on the human side. Men, under these one-sided commitments by God, Who was only looking for man's "faith", have nothing to "do" except "believe" them. This is why Paul was so focused upon his opposition to "justification by works of Law" and his emphatic proclamation of "justification by faith".
a. The first, and overarching, of such covenants is what is called "The Abrahamic Covenant".
1) This covenant was first recorded in Genesis 12:1-3 where God promised Abram a "land", a "great nation", and a "great name", and a commitment to bless and curse others in respect to their "blessing" or "cursing" of Abram.
2) This covenant had no "conditions" upon it in terms of what Abram was to do in order to obtain these "blessings". Some would argue that God required Abram to "do" three things (get out of your country, leave your kindred, and leave your father's house), but these are actions that would be fulfilled if Abram "believed" God's three-fold promise. Thus, they are not "requirements"; they are simply the "faith-produced" situations that would make the promise workable (what good would a "land" do Abram if he did not live in it?). As with all "covenants" that God was to make with men, this one "required" that Abram "believe" God. That's it. It should go without saying that "faith" simply means taking God up on something He promised and Abram could hardly "believe" God and not take the actions necessary to an actual experience of the promises; thus, the move. Technically, one could say that Abram actually disobeyed God's instructions in all but the move out of the land. He took with him "kindred" (Lot), and he took his "father's house" with him in the form of the "father" (Terah). Additionally, a good case can be made that Abram also "disobeyed" God's instructions by moving to Egypt at the first sign of difficulties in the "promised land". But, because the covenant was unconditional", God did not nullify His covenant because of these issues.
b. The second of these covenants is called, for the lack of a better name, "The Land Covenant" and it is recorded in Deuteronomy 29-30.
1) This covenant is declared to be "beside the covenant which God made with Israel in Horeb".
2) It is directly tied to the "Abrahamic" covenant in 29:13.
3) It assumes the failure of Israel to be faithful, but it also promises a "regathering" and a "circumcised heart" (30:3-6).
4) It was supposed to give the Israelites the motivation to be faithful so they could live in the land, but it was to be theirs in any case (30:20) because it was part of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). It is an extension of the "land" aspect of the original "Abrahamic Covenant".
c. The third of these covenants is called "The Davidic Covenant" and it is recorded in 2 Samuel 7.
1) This covenant was with David and reaffirmed the "land covenant" (7:10).
2) It, however, was a commitment to "build a house for David" (7:11) that would "establish the kingdom forever" (7:12).
3) It was given even though failure was assumed (7:14-16).
4) It was supposed to give David the motivation to live "at rest" with God's commitment to not depart from him (which was likely the reason for David's desire to build Him a house). It was horribly violated by David with the adultery and murder involved with Bathsheba, but God did not suspend it.
5) It is an extension of the "seed" aspect of the "Abrahamic Covenant".
d. The fourth of these covenants is called "The New Covenant" and it is recorded in both Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; and 36:26.
1) This covenant was with "the house of Israel and the house of Judah".
2) It was to be significantly superior to the covenant at Horeb (31:32).
3) It was to finally bring Israel into harmony with the Love(s) of God so that the Plan could finally be accomplished.
4) It is an extension of the "great name" aspect of the "Abrahamic Covenant".
C. These covenants were designed to address each of the major aspects of man's creation condition (needs of body, soul, and spirit) in light of the fall recorded in Genesis 3 where Eve failed in all three areas (body, soul, and spirit). And, though they were not transferred to The Church with the failure of Israel in Paul's day, there were equivalent commitments made by God to The Church that these covenants fore-shadowed.
1. The "land" covenant was not transferred to The Church, but, in light of the continuous need of physical saints, there was Jesus' promise that The Father knew this need and would take care to meet it as those saints pursued the will of God.
2. The "seed" covenant (Davidic) was not transferred to The Church, but, in light of the continuous need of men's souls, there was Jesus' promise to never forsake those who believe in Him and to be "with them" through thick and thin.
3. The "great name" covenant (New) was not transferred to The Church, but, in light of the continuous need of men's spirits, there was the declaration of a New Identity as "The Children of God" (an identity that is impossible to surpass).