God’s First Covenant

Last week we learned that the Old Testament plays just as big a role in the story of Jesus as the New. After the resurrection, rather than giving the disciples/apostles new revelation, Jesus chose to reason with them from Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets (Luke 24.27, Luke 24.44). We learned that this was the predetermined plan of God with no back up plan (Acts 2.22-23). Jesus was the promised, unblemished head crusher from Genesis 3 and a single sinful misstep by Him would have left us to perish without a Redeemer.

But how do we get from Genesis 3 to Jesus’ death and resurrection? Hundreds of years and dozens of generations pass between these events. By what method does the sovereign God orchestrate the Messiah’s lineage during that span of time?

This brings us to Genesis 6…

In Genesis 6 God is preparing to judge the world with the flood but there is a sense where he has to maintain the seed lineage he promised in Genesis 3. He can’t wipe out mankind because someone had yet to be born of a woman and crush the head of the serpent.

I encourage you to read the entire account of Genesis 6 but for time’s sake let’s look specifically at Genesis 6.17-18 where we find the first usage of a very important word and concept in Scripture,

Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark–you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

This is the first time the word covenant is used in Scripture and you will not understand the story of Jesus without understanding the covenants of God.

The Biblical Definition of a Covenant

When I’m defining the word, covenant in Scripture I go to Malachi 2.14,

Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

So we see here that marriage is a covenant. A covenant is a legally recognized and binding agreement between a party of two or more people.

Like with marriage, covenants have stipulations that are written down or announced ahead of time. Sometimes covenants have a sign given with the agreement (such as a wedding ring or the rainbow in the sky).

A covenant agreement is not conditional on good and bad days. Covenant parameters bind the participants for the duration of the covenant despite the fluctuations of day to day emotion and obedience.

Why is the Covenant Concept so Important?

Note in Genesis 6.18 God does not say a covenant but rather, My covenant. This is the announcement of an event yet to come. Think this through…

In Genesis 3 God expels Adam and Eve from the garden. In Genesis 6 He’s about to destroy His world and yet for the first time, God Himself will enter into a covenant relationship with someone.

A lot of times God in the Old Testament is labeled as a God of anger and wrath, and while you do see this aspect of His nature, it’s always in response to a violation of His holiness, and usually He provided an opportunity for repentance before judgment.

Liberal scholars want to depict God as a being who is in the process of learning, an evolving God. But God says, “For, I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3.6). God did not make a bunch of mistakes in the Old Testament and then finally get it right later on (as some would have you believe). Every action God takes is purposeful with a direct intent and outcome flowing from that action. It all matters. We can’t overlook any of it, and that especially includes the covenants.

I mean, we’re talking about binding agreements God puts Himself in with mankind. Agreements that cannot be broken under any circumstance. I would say this is pretty crucial. Wouldn’t you?

Tying the Covenants in with Jesus

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (John 5.46-47)

All of these covenants God entered into (and we are going to look at each one of them in the coming weeks) will be found in the person of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is not the ancient history of an obsolete God–it’s the unfolding story of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The birth of Jesus is a covenant promise.

The life of Jesus is a covenant promise.

The death of Jesus is a covenant promise.

The return of Jesus is a covenant promise.

Your relationship with God is based on a covenant agreement God makes with you. How important is that?

1 thought on “God’s First Covenant”

  1. Just wanted say I recently started to go through the audio series of We’ve Been Expecting You, I know I am a bit late to the “show”. But I am glad to have some of the teachings in article form. It helps to reinforce what I am listening to, and also to give me something I can highlight and underline parts of. 🙂

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