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COVENANT AND PROMISEo BERITH = Hebrew word for covenanto Berith is found in the earliest records in the Bible and is fundamental to Hebrew religion. In Latin it is Testamentum.o The Old Testament and the New Testaments means the old and the new covenants. A covenant is a promise.o Chesed = Hebrew word for the attitude of loyalty and faithfulness which both parties should observe towards one another in a covenant relationship.o The covenant 'chesed' of God is so strong that it can never pass away.The Covenant with Abrahamo The records of ancient Israel were not written down until the time of King David, who had a court and a scribe. This was the time when Israel possessed the land of Canaan. o The records were then redacted at later dates, significantly in the period of the exile (597BCE)o There are two covenants recorded in Genesis made with Abraham. o Genesis 15.
Abraham is told to kill a selection of animals and is then put into a deep sleep. A flaming pot passes through. This is a ceremony to seal the covenant. The covenant was one sided, God made promises, Abraham received them.The Covenant with Abrahamo Covenant 2o Genesis 17 records the outward sign of the covenant, circumcision. This is still an important practise today. o 17:9 God also said to Abraham: 'On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you that you must keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. Circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the mark of the covenant between you and me.o 17:12 Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised...
Thus my covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting pact.o Scholars believe this is a later covenant influenced by the experiences of the exile.The Promises of the Covenant with Abrahamo Abraham is promised that he will be the father of a great nation,through whom all nations will find blessing.o He will have many descendents.o His descendants will inhabit the land of Canaan. The extent of this kingdom is given as the kingdom of David.o Genesis 17. The same promises are made, but the covenant is sealed with the blood of circumcision. All the descendants of Abraham are to circumcise their boys on the eighth day.The Mosaic Covenanto On Mt Sinai a two sided covenant is sealed. This is a unique moment and crucial for understanding Jewish attitude to the Laws in the Torah.o Exodus 19:5, 'IF YOU WILL OBEY MY VOICE AND KEEP MY COVENANT, YOU SHALL BE MY OWN POSSESSION AMONG ALL PEOPLES; FOR ALL THE WORLD IS MINE, AND YOU SHALL BE TO ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION'o Israel agrees to this and becomes Yahweh's people. But the covenant is understood as conditional on obedience to the laws of the covenant.o Abraham was obedient to the word of God, but now the word of God is written down and fixed, for all generations.o These events made the Jews into a people with a unique identity, bound to each other, to God and to Torah.
The Mosaic Covenanto The consequence of failure to honour the laws and to follow one God is made clear in the farewell speech of Moses in Deuteronomy. He outlines a series of curses for failure and blessings for obedience.Failure to obey will result in disaster, punishment, loss of the promises of the covenant. In short, God with withdraw his favour. God is just and takes vengeance upon the wicked, and shows mercy to the good. o Obedience to the law is seen as the appropriate response to the covenant relationship.The Davidic Covenanto The appointment of a king was not viewed at a secular act. The first two kings were chosen by the prophet/judge/priest, Samuel.o The election of a king was sealed with the act of anointing. Messiah means 'The anointed one.' (In Greek this means Christ).
Anointing was accompanied with a special gift of the spirit which signposted that God had chosen this person. The King became the protector and saviour of the people in God's stead.o In a coronation Psalm the king is called, 'My begotten son.' The king was an adopted son of God (2 Sam. 7.14. God says: "I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me")o The monarchy of David was sealed by a covenant (2 Sam 7:26), 'THE HOUSE OF MY SERVANT DAVID SHALL BE ESTABLISHED FOR EVER' This was a one sided covenant.Development of Davidic Covenanto When the monarchy failed to live up to expectation hopes arose for another king like David. Isaiah 11 records the hopes for a new king who will be a wonderful counsellor, an adopted son of God, the prince of peace.o Second Isaiah talks of a suffering servant who will be the saviour of the people.o In the post exilic period the hope emerges for a transcendent Messiah. Daniel 7:14.o Some hoped for a priestly Messiah.o In the NT period the hope for a king like David was the most prominent hope among the populace.o The messianic age would mark the beginning of the final phase in history when God would be king of the whole earth.Exileo In 597 BCE Babylon conquered Israel. The leading people were carried off into exile.o The covenant promises seemed to be over.o They had lost the land.o The monarchy was over.o This resulted in the belief that obedience to the law was the means by which they could achieve the promises.o In the exile the divine grace behind the covenants went out of focus and legalism emerged.
The Hope for a New Covenanto Jeremiah is largely a prophet of gloom. He says that an Ethiopian cannot change the colour of his skin and Israel cannot obey the law (13:23). As things are Israel is incapable of obeying the law.o However towards the end of his ministry there is a note of hope. Jeremiah witnessed the end of Israel as a nation. As Jerusalem was under siege he went out to buy a field.(32:13-15)o He has a prophecy of a new covenant. This speaks of forgiveness and renewal of the covenant relationship.o All Israel will know the law, and it will become a part of their inner nature. It will be written on their hearts.Ezekielo A prophet of the exile.o He hopes for a Good Shepherd like David to come and lead the people, for a return to the land, and for the rebuilding of the temple.o Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.(Ch37)o Prophecy about the recreation of the people.o The RUACH of God is breathed into the bones.
Spirit/breath or wind.o Prophecy of a new covenant which will replace the Mosaic covenant and a return to Eden.This will be when the The Kingdom of God reigns once more on earth.Second Isaiaho Another prophet of the exile.o Absolute monotheism emerged during the period of the exile.o If there is only one God, then he is also the God of the nations.o Isaiah pictures a renewal of the covenant on return from exile at Jerusalem.o Significantly all nations will come to worship Israel's God.ISAIAH 40:1 Comfort, give comfort to my people, Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.40:3 A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!40:4 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.40:5 Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.Peter Vardy "Covenant and Promise" 2000.
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