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In order to walk properly as Christians we must understand the covenants (laws , contracts, agreements) between God and man. In other words we must understand what God expects of us. This I endeavor to present here in a simple form. I will have a much more detailed version available for those that cannot see the truth herein presented. As always I am willing to answer any questions that you may have.
There is so much misunderstanding in the church today about the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ-(perfect Law of Liberty through faith), that a truly scriptural understanding must be available. Law (works) vs Christ (faith)
Because of this I will show the most important covenants that God has made with His people from the creation and how they are applied by Him. Their purpose, how long they were to last and the results that would come from them. Which ones are currently in effect, which ones are no longer in effect and any that are yet to come.
Unfortunately very few churches teach the scriptural understanding of the above, but teach a man-made feel good combination of them. Let us ,like the Bereans , check ALL things against the scripture to see if they be of God.
All references unless noted are from the NKJV, but you can use any bible with which you are comfortable.
To understand the Covenants of God with man we must first look at the relationship between man and God. You need to understand that we are dealing with the major covenants here and will only be talking about the overall covenant and not each individual part of them. To be specific . we are looking at the original (creation) covenant, God’s covenant with Abraham, God’s covenant with Noah, the Mosaic Covenant (Law of Moses) and the New Covenant ( Jesus Perfect Law of Liberty ), Those covenants governing the relationship between God and His people at any given time.
Relationship One God’s Plan
Before you begin here read Genesis chapter 1 &2—in case you do not know this I need to tell you that chapters 1 &2 are parallel passages not different stories.
CREATION and The First Covenant
God created everything that is in preparation for the man He was going to create. He created all things and said they were good- in other words they were what he desired for His man (mankind). Then we are told that God created man in His own image. Man was to be the reflection of God. Which means that it was God’s plan that when someone looked at man they would see God. (boy have we messed that up). Then when His preparation was complete He created man
Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Covenant One - God and Adam -- The Creation Covenant
So now we will look at the relationship between the man God has created and God. Did you notice that God and Adam walked in the garden together and apparently conversed with each other as friends just as you and I talk to our friends. They had an open , personal relationship.
God also gave to Adam absolute dominion (authority) over the earth and everything he had created. It was created for man, given to man and man was free to use it as he saw fit. To enjoy all that He had created for him, He put man in the garden to tend, guard and keep it. Do you see that, man was not to have to work and strive to live, God intended man to enjoy what He had prepared for him. He was to enjoy God and His provision. God planted the garden and God sent the mist to water it, everything that man needed had been provided by God Himself. And what did God expect in return? One thing only was required of man, to trust God and be obedient to Him. See Genesis 2:17 God required only one thing, EveryThing was given to man EXCEPT one lone tree in the middle of the garden. Do you see that there was one and only one thing that God withheld from the man. One thing alone but the penalty for breaking this trust was death. Do you also see that God did not tell him what the tree contained, only that he was not to eat of it. See God never tempts His people. It was only after they had disobeyed God that He told them what the tree was. Everything man could ever need was given freely to him and God kept only one thing from the man under penalty of death. He did this for the protection of the man He had created. Do you understand this is not talking about what we as mortals call death, but what God considers to be death—separation from God and His blessings. Violating this one law would cause man to be separated from God.
You see ALL things that are were created by God, but there were some things that God did not want man to know or participate in/ deal with . God created all things, including good and evil . Yes God created evil. But God never intended for man to know that there is good and evil, God’s plan for man was that he should only know the good things, God’s blessings. But He had also given man two things that man needed to properly use, His authority over ALL things on the earth and a free will. He also created for him a help mate, one to keep him company , not an adversary and not an equal, but a completing partner for him. And by the way did you notice the free interaction between man and the animals? They even ate the same things. Man was given a perfect world to live in with only one law. One law and today we have thousands. God’s plan 1 law – man’s way thousands of laws.
God had not built robots He made a man with a mind of his own. He allowed man to make decisions affecting his life. God’s plan and desire was for man to obey the one law , but he was free to disobey and suffer the consequences.
If you have read the story you know that the woman God made for the man disobeyed the one law and “gave to her husband with her” and they ate of the forbidden tree thereby separating themselves (and all mankind) from the blessings of God. Note: Adam had been given authority over ALL and Adam had been given the one law by God. Yet instead of obeying God Adam obeyed his wife and did not exercise his authority . If Adam had told Eve No we will not eat that we would never have been separated from God.
So now we find man in a difficult place, instead of obeying God they have disobeyed and now God has come looking for them—they hide in fear , fear – something God never intended them to experience. Adam tries to blame his wife but it is too late , he has disobeyed God and the separation has begun. All the parties to the disobedience were to suffer. See the serpent (satan) had also been created by God during the creation of everything. But he had no authority and never would have been able to affect mankind if Adam had obeyed God, but instead Adam , by listening to his wife and disobeying God, submitted to satan , thereby giving him access to his life and ours. In other words Adam let the devil out of the box. Remember the tree that was forbidden was the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Before they ate of its fruit there was no Knowledge of good or evil so all things were in effect good because they knew no evil.
If man had not obeyed satan, but had obeyed God the devil would never have been released on the earth.
Where there are rules/laws there are always consequences for breaking them .
As a result of this breaking of the covenant, Adam has to go to work and supply their need by the work of his hands, Eve is no longer a free companion to Adam, but is placed into a subjective relationship with him ( “he shall rule over you”), satan is loosed on the earth to tempt and lead mankind astray. And there is more as you see by reading the scripture. These are the most important things we need to see here.
Do you understand it was ok for them to eat of the tree of life until they disobeyed God. It was not forbidden to them as they were perfect, in the image of God, until they disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden tree. Now they are no longer perfect and if they eat of the tree of life they will be forever kept in their sinful state. The tree of life is the tree of eternal life,
BUT God in his infinite wisdom immediately removes them from the garden so they cannot eat of the tree of life while in this sinful condition. This is so important to God (protecting them) that He even places armed guards there to keep them from returning and eating of the tree of life. If they had eaten of the tree of life in that condition they could never have been restored to their original relationship to God. This original relationship with God is still what God intends for man and He has a plan to restore us to that loving relationship.
This first covenant was instituted by God and broken by man thereby ending the first covenant.
Covenant Two – God and Noah
In order to understand please Read Genesis Chapters 6 through 9 Before going on.
So now God has left man alone to his own ways for several generations and we find man has become so depraved that God is sorry He ever made man.’
Gen 6:1-8:20 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 3 And the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Gen 6:13 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark — you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. 21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them." 22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.
Men have followed their own desires, neglecting God and going astray from Him
Because of God’s love for the man He made He looks and is able to find ONLY 1 man on the earth that has not become corrupt. But that’s all He needs so because of this one man—notice here that God does not say that Noahs wife or children found grace in the eyes of the Lord, only Noah. But because of Noah his whole family is to be saved
Now God tells Noah that he will destroy the earth and all its inhabitants except those with Noah in 120 years. So we see God gave Noah time to build the ark, 120 years. We also see the explicit detailed instructions that God gave to Noah for the ark.
And then we see that Noah , unlike Adam “did according to all that God commanded him”. He obeyed God completely.
Then because of Noah’s complete trust and obedience to God, He made a covenant with Noah and all living things to never again destroy the earth by flood.
. It is said that Noah is a type of Christ do you see why? If it had not been for Noah God would have destroyed mankind, so Noah was the first savior of mankind. He saved the race from extinction but he could not and did not repair the breech between man and God He in effect saved mankind for Christ.
Gen 9:1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
Gen 9:8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 "And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." 12 And God said: "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."
We see that God made an EVERLASTING covenant with Noah, His first EVERLASTING covenant. You can see the token of this covenant whenever it rains , as a reminder to us and to God that the rain will not flood and destroy the whole earth.
We also see changes that God made as far as the relationship between man and the animals and our food sources at that time. The animals are now to fear us and we are now free to eat any moving thing that lives along with the green vegetables and plants.
This is Gods second covenant with man and it is the first Everlasting covenant. This one will continue as long as the earth remains. Until the new heaven and new earth arrive.
Covenant Three – God and Abraham
God made a covenant with Abraham 430 years before His covenant with Moses. This covenant was in the form of a promise to Abraham and was not to become effective until a later date. This is the beginning of God’s plan of restoration for fallen man.
Before going on you should read Genesis chapters 12 through 22.
God chooses Abraham (then known as Abram) to make His covenant with and then tests him to see that he will obey God or not. First He separates him from his family and friends and sends him off to a place of God’s choosing without telling him where he is going. To get where he is going, he has to hear God as He directs him. Through a long series of events God tests Abram, proves him, changes his name to Abraham and makes the greatest covenant of all with him. Abraham, who has followed God by faith, now has to believe in this covenant by faith as he will not see it come to pass in his lifetime.
See Genesis 22,
God calls Abraham to take his son, the one given him by God in his old age, His precious gift from God and sacrifice him back to God. Does this look familiar? Do you see that God is asking of Abraham what God himself will be doing with His own special son? But the difference is that when Abraham is willing to sacrifice him (making him worthy to be the “father” of Christ) God allows him to keep his son. Then God announces to Abraham that he will be the line (lineage ) through which the Christ shall be born in the earth.
Gen 22:15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son — 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
So the Abrahamic covenant is established between God and Abraham. Which is, that a later time to be established by God, a descendant of Abraham will be sent by God to bring full and total salvation to those who will accept Him as their deliverer (Messiah).
Everything that happens from this point on in the old testament is to point the way to the Christ, The Messiah who is to come and restore the breech between man and God.
Covenant Four - God and Moses )The Law of Moses)
We now come to a time when God’s people, now known as Israelites are in bondage in Egypt and He prepares a savior and deliverer. ( not for eternal life but as Noah for their natural lives).
At God’s leading and thru many miracles Moses is able to deliver , bring God’s people out of the Egyptian bondage. In the third month after the deliverance from Egypt, God proposes to Moses a covenant between them and God that would set Israel apart as God’s Chosen people. Moses and the people agree with God and so God begins giving them the laws that they are to live by. First He gives them what have become known as the 10 Commandments. Then He gives them the rest of the 630 plus laws that they are required to live by as Gods People. God even gives Moses stones on which He has written these 10 commandments. This is the beginning of what is referred to as “the Law”, “The Mosaic Law” or The Law of Moses”.
These laws cover every aspect of Their lives and have some very harsh penalties for breaking them. They are so tough that NO man can keep them all. These laws were given to the Israelites and according to scripture and the laws themselves they were to be in effect until Christ would come and fulfill them and make them complete and no longer in effect. The whole of the law points to the coming Messiah that will be the true deliverer of God’s people, not only in their natural lives but also their Spiritual life and He and only He will bring eternal life for those that recognize and submit to Him.
Thus the covenant between God and Moses and the Isrealites was established and becomes effective. It teaches us that man cannot be righteous in himself no matter how hard he tries because no man can keep ALL the laws of God which is the requirement set forth in the law to obtain the righteousness of God. And this law was to remain in effect until there is a man that can keep ALL of its laws thereby fulfilling it and becoming the righteousness of God in Himself. This law is no longer in effect, having been fulfilled by Christ thereby completing and finishing it.
Covenant Five - The Final Covenant - Jesus ( the fulfillment of Covenant Three)
Jesus brings The Perfect Law of Liberty
This is actually the fulfillment of the covenant that God made with Abraham. To fully understand this covenant you need to understand that Those who profess Christ are the true Israel of God, not those that are Israelites by birth unless they profess Christ. Israel refers to the people of God.
Following are scriptures in Jesus own Words that explain that the law was temporary and that He was the fulfillment and finish of the Law.
Matt 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 16:16 "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.
See above the law was not to be destroyed BUT fulfilled by Jesus, no man could and that is why He came to fulfill the law, get it out of the way and open the door to salvation to all through the blood of Jesus. The law remained in effect until HE FULFILLED it on the cross with HIS BLOOD, thereby fulfilling the law and making it of no value any longer. It was fulfilled, thereby done away with, no longer in effect. That is why when Jesus died on the cross He said “It is Finished”, He was not talking about His life , it wasn’t finished , He would rise again , the Law was finished He had Fulfilled it—all of it. The final steps now were the spilling of His blood which completed the sacrifice and His resurrection, which defeated death opening the door to eternal life.
Since this completing, doing away with the law, is a problem for so many to see because so many people falsely teach that the Law has not been done away with I will give you an example that will help you to understand. You see the law was a precursor to Christ, it was designed to let us see that there is no way we can of ourself be righteous before God and let us see we have a real need for a savior. By Him fulfilling it ,it gives Him the authority to abolish it as He is greater that the law. So when He offers His righteousness for us it is Accepted by God because He paid the price with His blood ( remember the redemption is only by blood) and owns the right of redemption for us.
So here is the example of how the Law is no longer in effect, is fulfilled. Another word for covenant is “contract”.
Lets say you are going to have a new home built. You make a contract with the builder. He will build you a house according to such and such a plan, it will be this size, have this many square feet of living area and be painted, carpeted and whatever else you want as specified in the contract. For this you will pay him $xxxx.xx. So he builds the house , according to the contract. He completes the contract and comes to you and says “it is finished”. You say yes it is exactly what I wanted and you pay him. The contract has been fulfilled—it no longer is in effect has no value , other than as an example of how to write a contract for a good house. The same as the Law it is done away with exept for its value to show the need for a Saviour. Do you see it now.
So many people falsely teach that parts of the Law are still in effect because parts are mentioned in the new testament. But understand it was in effect up until when Jesus said “it is finished” and after that you will not find even one scripture showing it to be in effect still. To the contrary. Scripture in many places pronounces the law obsolete and out of use. Following are a few and there are very many more.
Heb 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Heb 10:8 Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them"(which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
This is the final covenant . It is Everlasting. Its purpose is to restore the breech between man and God. It will remain in effect forever – until Jesus returns and ushers in His Eternal Kingdom here on the earth and those that partake of it will forever be with Him, inseparable. The result of this covenant is that whosoever will may become part of the family of God by acceptance of Christ and His finished work by following the scriptural directions.
Charles LaFoe 10/15/2009