by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7 August 26, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(428)Thesis:With "the covenants" Paul turns from a focus upon the future to a focus upon the past and from a focus upon "expectations" to a focus upon "God's methods".
Introduction:As we have considered Paul's description of Israel's "privileges" we have noted that his focus in "the adoption" and "the glory" has been upon what the future holds for those who have an established relationship with God. We saw in our study a couple of weeks ago that "the adoption" is a post-this-life event in which the Father declares His "child" to now be His "son" on the basis of having been sufficiently trained and matured to be able to "handle" the Father's "business" (His possessions and His objectives). The Bible says this "event" occurs at the point of "resurrection".
Then, last week we saw that the basis for this declaration of "sonship" is the process by which God communicates His "glory" to His children. The issue of "glory" is the issue of actual, fundamental, attributes and the communication of those attributes from Father to child is a multifaceted process, but the bottom line is that the child takes on the character of the Father. It is precisely because of the transformation of the child's flawed character into a mirror of the Father's balanced character that the Father is able to release the "inheritance" to the "son". We saw in that study that there are two major elements in "the glory": "degree" and "balance". The "degree" of glory that is communicated is dependent upon how effective the transfer is and what the rate of transfer is according to the issues of repentance. The "balance" of the transmitted glory will actually establish the position of the "son" in the Father's Kingdom.
This evening, with these "future" realities in our minds, we are going to follow Paul's next declaration of Israel's possessions: the covenants. What does it mean for Israel to have ownership of "the covenants"?
I. The First Issue: Contextual Boundaries.
A. Because Paul is addressing what belongs to "Israel", we can set aside any "covenants" that were made outside of Israel's context (such as the Noahic covenant in Genesis 6:18 and 9:9-17).
1. But, before we set Noah aside, it will help to see what the "point" of covenants were as this "first" one is introduced to the biblical reader.
a. In this first "covenant setting" the issue is a commitment on God's part to make a "Life" distinction in the setting.
1) Everyone (generally) is under a sentence of Death (6:17).
2) But there are some individuals (specifically) who are going to get a "reprieve" from that sentence so that they may Live (6:18-22; the focus is "to keep alive" in 6:19 and in 6:20).
b. In this first "covenant setting" there is a specific methodological commitment that is designed to make the "Life" possible (9:9-17).
1) In 9:11 this "method" is a restraint of the extent to which flood waters will be permitted to inundate the habitat of the "air breathers" ("...neither shall all flesh be cut off any more the by the waters of a flood...neither shall there be any more a flood to destroy the earth...").
2) In 9:14-15 and in 9:16 a second "method" is a "reminder" to God of His covenant so that He does not "forget" in His "wrath" what He said He would do.
c. In this first "covenant setting" there is a defined recipient of the commitment.
1) In multiple phrases in 9:9-17 God defines the recipients of His commitment.
a) 9:9 - "...you, and ... your seed after you...".
b) 9:10 - "And with every living creature that is with you...all that go out of the ark...".
c) 9:11 - "...you and every living creature that is with you...".
d) 9:13 - "...a covenant between Me and the earth...".
e) 9:15 - "...My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh...".
f) 9:16 - "...between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth."
g) 9:17 - "...the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth."
2) In all of these phrases there is no "specific" individual who is given an exemption from death by flood waters.
d. In this first "covenant setting" there is a declaration of "how long" the covenant will be in effect (9:12 - "...for perpetual generations..."; 9:16 - "...the everlasting covenant...").
2. Setting aside non-Israel covenants does not mean that Israel was not to benefit from them if Israel "qualified" in some way, but Paul's focus is upon what God specifically "covenanted" to do for Israel.
B. Because Paul specifically addressed "the giving of the Law" and the more generic "promises" as aspects of his delineation of Israel as a deep grief to him, we can set those aside in our look at "the covenants.
II. The Second Issue: the General Biblical Focus Upon Abraham.
A. In Luke 1:72 Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, put the "salvation" thesis [the commitment on God's part to make a "Life" distinction in the setting] under a single covenant.
1. He called it "God's holy covenant".
2. He defined it as "the oath which He spake unto Abraham our father".
a. But it included "the house of His servant David" (1:69 - the specific terms of what is called "the Davidic Covenant" of 2 Samuel 7).
b. And it included "service in holiness and righteousness" (1:75) and "the remission of their sins (1:77) which were the terms of what is called "the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31).
3. He claimed that its focus was "salvation" (1:71).
a. He broke it into a "deliverance from" in 1:74.
b. He added to it a "that we ... should serve Him" in the same text.
c. These elements create a very general methodological statement.
4. He declared that it was to "last" "all our days" [this is the duration issue].
B. In Genesis 12:1-3 there is a deliberate three-part commitment on God's part that has the Death issues of Genesis 3 in a near context.
1. Genesis 3 led directly to Genesis 6-9.
2. The Noahic covenant made such limitations that the massive rebellion of Genesis 11 had to be met in a different way, but the "setting" is of death leading into Genesis 12.