Why does God enter into relationship specifically through covenant? Maybe a more specific question would be: What is it about God and His nature that would cause Him to enter into relationship through covenant? The question, of course, begs to ask a second question. What exactly is covenant, or specifically, what exactly is the covenant that God has chosen to enter into relationship through? It is a perplexing questions when left vague, because who can truly understand what it is about covenant that fills God’s heart with joy? However, when we dive into the secondary question, clarity emerges.
If we trace through the Old Testament the times when the word covenant is used, specifically by the prophets or God Himself, we find that God does seem to have a singular eye. He talks to Israel about “My covenant”.1 It isn’t “covenants”, as if with different people at different times, and in different dispensations, God is giving different covenants, or relating with humanity in different ways. God enters into relationship through one covenant exclusively, and all aspects of that covenant are displayed throughout all times and ages. Where our confusion so often enters is in the issue of the Jewish calendar, the sacrifices, the laws and ordinances, and these sorts of stumbling blocks to the Gentiles. Simply because we as Gentiles find the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy to be archaic, or worse, and therefore outdated or obsolete does not mean that God thinks in the same way.
We’ve been taught to think of these things as types and shadows, but the real substance is Christ. And we’ve been shown examples of how the sacrifices are all fulfilled in Christ, and how the feasts are all fulfilled in Christ, and therefore because Jesus has already come and gone, we think of these things as no longer relevant in discussion. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. In every way that we can see the sacrifices, the feasts, the laws, the statutes, the ordinances, and the other aspects of the covenant as fulfilled in Jesus, we can see them eschatologically as well. The book of Revelation masterfully paints a picture of the end times with Jewish imagery, much of which coming directly out of the Torah and the traditions associated with the feasts. They who are in white robes waving palm branches in Revelation 7 is a direct reference to the tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Lamb that has been slain, who appears in Revelation 14 as well as Revelation 4-5, is a direct reference to Passover. This is not to mention that immediately after Passover is first fruits, which just so happens to be the whole point of Revelation 14:1-5.
My whole point here is that God’s heart is not one of divorcing the old to be enthralled with the new. God has told us that we should not commit adultery,2 and that if we divorce for any reason other than extremes (such as infidelity),3 only to then take up a new spouse, that we are committing adultery. How is He now going to reveal to us that He has divorced Israel and the Old Testament to be married unto the Church and the New Testament? I am depositing here another way of looking at things. God enters into covenant with the whole of creation, and not merely through humanity, and therefore His focus is upon the redemption and restoration of all things. When God made promise in Genesis 3 that there would be a seed of the woman, that promise has the unspoken connotation of bringing things back into Eden. When God made the promise to Noah, that everlasting covenant that He made was with the whole earth. When He made the covenant with Abraham, that covenant was specifically to bless all the nations, and it had a very specific piece of land associated with it.
Immediately when I say such things, whether in conversation or on media, my experience has been that I get a slew of questions of how I can believe that God would be want the Jew and not the whole world, or why God would want the land of Israel. Don’t I know that God isn’t in real estate? And don’t I know that God has broken down the wall of separation? Don’t I know that there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ? But who exactly are we attacking in these questions? Are these questions directed at me, or at God? It is almost as if without saying it, people are making the very bold and irrational declaration that if God is like that, I can’t, and won’t, follow Him or believe in Him. If God would choose one nation out of all nations, in order to bless all nations, that through the blood of the everlasting covenant we have been grafted into and made a part of that nation, then I want nothing to do with that sinister God of yours. And if God would choose one piece of land over and above all pieces of land, that He should establish a Kingdom upon the earth from which to rule over all nations, that there would be world peace and everlasting righteousness and justice, then you can give that God the finger for me, because I hate Him.
We would never say these thing out loud, and yet the very foaming at the mouth in the heated discussions that I’ve encountered does indeed say this loud and clear. Why is there such rage and animosity if all we’re talking about is the possibility of God doing things one way or another? Either this jives with God’s character or it is out of keeping with His character. If it is out of keeping, then let us reason together and explain why. If it is not out of keeping, then why the hostility? Is it a rage against a doctrine, or a rage against the everlasting covenant itself? Do we not see in Daniel 11 that this is exactly what the antichrist does: rage against the covenant?
1Genesis 6:18, 9:15, 17:7, Exodus 6:4, 19:5, Leviticus 26:9, Deuteronomy 31:20, etc