THE COVENANT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MAN: I

INTRODUCTION TO THE COVENANT

A “Covenant” is an agreement between two parties and a pledge by the recipients to abide by the agreement. That is not the case in the Bible. God, the Creator, who employs man to manage God’s affairs on earth, set up the “Covenant” with conditions via an oath or a promise. Then, God leaves it up to man to adhere or to reject the “Covenant.” By the time of Moses, these conditions were set in the “Ten Commandments,” which throughout history, with adaptations and with additions and with subtractions, have been the foundation of all civilizations. By the time of Jesus, traditions had replaced the “Ten Commandments.” And therefore, Jesus insisted on restoring the “Ten Commandments” (Matthew 5:17-20). Essentially, the “Ten Commandments” are what God has willed for mankind on earth.

The “Ten Commandments” are the decree with the stipulations that holds man, the recipients, responsible for keeping the “Covenant” in force. God created the world! And then, God wanted a simple wooden ark for the “Covenant” and a tent out of cloth to worship in. Everything was to be portable. God was in the Law and in the hearts of his followers. God was not in buildings or in the edifices, like in the pagan temples. To manage the world, God turned the world over to man. In order for man to succeed, God also provided the guidelines by which man must govern the world. The “Ten Commandments” are the guidelines! The Ten Commandments are not negotiable or changeable! Human insertions and human alterations of the “covenantal conditions” will disrupt the system and ultimately destroy the world. Man has been endowed with a free will! Man is allowed to choose whether to comply or whether to disobey the “Covenant.” It is essentially the fact that “what man sows, so man also shall reap” (Galatians 6:7-10).

ADAM AND EVE WERE THE FIRST TO REAP WHAT THEY SOWED:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2:15-17).

The “Covenant” God set forth for Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus, the Christ, is one and the same. The “Covenant” never changed! And everything the “Covenant” predicted has come to pass. God dictates! God does not negotiate! God’s Laws are fixed! And not an “iota” can be changed! These directions came from “The Word who is God Himself” and through whom this world came into existence:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

The Son of God, in Person, came into this world to restore “God’s image” in man by restoring the Law and the prophets:

Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).

From this fig tree learn a lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and put forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Matthew 24:32-35).

For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (John 1:17-18).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter, Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:43-51).

Moses! Just how important was Moses to Jesus? Jesus was born and raised in the tradition of Moses. We have an interesting list of references in which Jesus complied with the instructions God gave to Moses. Jesus did not replace Moses. Jesus fulfilled Moses by restoring his message to the world. Moses’ message was sufficient for Israel and the world. Before Moses’ message, the “Ten Commandments” were altered. And the “Ten Commandments” were replaced with the traditions of the fathers. When Moses favored the men over the women, in divorce and in raising offspring for the family name, Moses, himself, contributed to the traditions of the fathers. Moses, himself, saw the need for a Messiah. Israel, as well as the world, needed to return to God’s Law. It is Moses, and not Christ, who will accuse the Israelites of their sins and their transgressions:

And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:22-24).

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart (Luke 2:41-51).

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And he closed the book and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for our cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people” (Luke 5:12-14).

Now about eight days after these sayings (that the Son of man must suffer) he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:28-31).

The rich man who neglected to care for Lazarus pleaded with Abraham:

Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:27-31).

And Jesus, the Risen Lord, talked to the men of Emmaus and later to the disciples:

“O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27).

Then he said to them (disciples), “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49).

We have these crucial references to Moses, in the Gospel of John. Moses was the means through whom God gave the Law, but Moses will sit in judgment over those who disobeyed the Law. Moses is also the witness to Christ as the only source of eternal life.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on who you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But it you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words (John 5:39-47)?”

“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The people answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (Not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man upon the sabbath. If on the sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:19-24).

GOD DID NOT SET MAN AFLOAT IN THE UNIVERSE WITHOUT A COVENANT OR WITHOUT A PROMISE WITH A REDEMPTIVE PURPOSE

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he had made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:3-10).

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love wit which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).

One of the twelve largest preparations was the Exodus in which two million Hebrew people were taken out of Egypt. The Hebrew people were taken into a wilderness. The people spent forty years to learn how to become a nation and how to manage each other, where no Pharaoh would employ and feed them. Think of what void the Hebrews left in the Egyptian economy and lifestyle? Think of the impact such a project had on the nations at that time? Let me give you a taste — what mine was like during World War II. In 1939 and again in 1945, I was among the homeless of millions of people, who were hiding and running for our lives, trying to escape from persecution and the sword. In both times, we were driven from our homes, our land, and our businesses into exile in the middle of January. It began when I was nine and my father was facing the German tanks as a Polish soldier. And it ended when I was fifteen, wandering in a horse’s wagon all over Germany, for almost a year to find shelter and a place to live. During this time, I lost a sister and a brother. It was a time that Jesus had predicted would happen to Israel under Rome, and it also happened to us. In spite of it all, we belonged to the more fortunate because we all did escape from it.

Pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And it those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if any one says to you, ‘Lo, here is the Christ!’ of ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together (Matthew 24:20-28)