Category Archives: covenant

The Book of the Covenant

reeds_15693ac“The sacrificial ritual forms the center of the rites of the tabernacle. The altar is in fact, a house of God, a tabernacle in miniature. Hence it is described as the place where God records His ‘Name,’ and meets with His people (Ex.20:24).” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 172).
“Yahweh’s jealousy must be understood as Yahweh in his love going on the offensive on behalf of his holiness and on the defensive on behalf of his people with whom he is united in covenant. Yahweh’s love will not tolerate any rivals or synergistic cultic activities.” (Gerard Van Groningen, From Creation to Consummation, pp. 373-374).

(Quotes in preparation for the the Reflection on the message at Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC)

A Most Important Preface

ayear0845ocWhen you start a book, do you read the preface? Or do you get right into the meat of the writing? I have usually found prefaces interesting, but not crucial to understanding the author. The preface to the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:1-2, however, gives you the crucial perspective you need to understand what God is saying here. It reminds you of the covenant relationship between you and God–and it is through that relationship that you hear the Commandments.

In the Old Testament already it is God who, immediately after the fall, out of grace, puts enmity between humanity and the serpent and brings humanity to his side (Gen. 3:15). It is he who elects Abraham and the people of Israel born of him to be his possession (Gen. 12:1; Exod. 15:13, 16; 19:4; 20:2; Deut. 7:6f.), who makes a covenant with them and gives his laws to them (Gen. 15:1; 17:2; Exod. 2:24-25; Deut. 4:5-15), who gives the blood of the altar fore atonement (Lev. 17:11), and does all that is needed for his vineyard (Isa. 5; Jer. 2:21). But in virtue of that election and on the basis of that covenant, that people is also obligated now, on pain of the law’s curse (Deut. 27:26), to walk before God’s face with integrity and to keep his commandments (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 20: Deut. 10:15-16; etc.).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, pp. 493-494). Continue reading

When God Descends

mount-sinai-07God is the Creator, man a creature; and with that statement an infinite distance between the two is given. . . . Accordingly, if there is truly to be religion, if there is to be fellowship between God and man, . . . then God has to come down from his lofty position, condescend to his creatures, impart, reveal, and give himself away to human beings; then he who inhabits eternity and dwells in a high and lofty place must also dwell with those who are of a humble spirit (Isa. 57:15). But this set of conditions is nothing other than the description of a covenant. If religion is called a covenant, it is thereby described as the true and genuine religion. This is what no religion has ever understood; all peoples either pantheistically pull God down into what is creaturely, or deistically elevate him endlessly above it. In neither case does one arrive at true fellowship, at covenant, at genuine religion. But Scripture insists on both: God is infinitely great and condescendingly good; he is Sovereign but also Father; he is Creator but also Prototype. In a word, he is the God of the Covenant.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, pp. 569-570). Continue reading

God’s Treasured Possession

exodus_8284c“Be mine!” may be a message on a valentine card. But what does it mean to be God’s treasured possession? How can you be God’s people? This reflection focuses on God making his covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai–and his covenant with you in Christ.

Genesis 3:15 already contains the entire covenant in a nutshell and all the benefits of grace. God breaks the first covenant made by the first humans with Satan, puts enmity between them, brings the first humans over to his side, and promises them victory over the power of the enemy. The one great promise to Abraham is ‘I will be your God, and you and your descendants will be my people’ (Gen. 17:8 paraphrase). And this is the principle content of God’s covenant with Israel as well. God is Israel’s God, and Israel is his people (Exod. 19:6; 29:46; etc.). Israel, accordingly, receives a wide assortment of blessings, not only temporal blessings, such as the land of Canaan, fruitfulness in marriage, a long life, prosperity, plus victory over its enemies, but also spiritual and eternal blessings, such as God’s dwelling among them (Exod. 29:45; Lev. 24:12), the forgiveness of sins (Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut 4:31; Pss. 32; 103; etc.), sonship. . . sanctification. . . and so on.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 221).