In one of His Kingdom Parables, the Lord Jesus tells of the Son of Man planting good seed in His field which is the world. He explains the good seed are the children of the kingdom. Our question is, who exactly are these children?
About forty years ago, I began knowing there was something powerful to be known in the Covenants God made with His people. Even the word "covenant" gripped me. But, in all the preaching and teaching I heard no one ever seemed to use it. Of all the doctors of theology I had sat under in my training, I could not remember a single lesson about God’s Covenants. I did come upon Andrew Murray’s book, The Two Covenants, and found it enlightening, but my spirit was left questing for more.
Often it has been the case that my spirit has longed for something from the Lord before it is conceived in my mind. To me this is an indication that my spirit is made—I should say our spirits are made—for knowing the Lord and will find no lasting satisfaction apart from knowing Him in all His faithfulness. In His Covenants we find the roots of His faithfulness. He has committed Himself to us in them.
About the time of my deepest quest, in one of our Summer camp- meetings, our friend Leonard Ravenhill told us of his friend Duncan Campbell. In the account he used that word "covenant." It was a simple story and I only remember it in a sketchy fashion, but one particular line of it struck me and remains.
Mr. Campbell had been powerfully used in the Holy Spirit’s movement that began in 1949 in the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland. One day, a woman given to much praying challenged him to go to a certain village where she believed the Holy Spirit would move. It was a village notorious for unbelief, with no church there but a strong movement toward Communism. After some persuasion, he arranged his affairs to go, but did not know what he would do when he arrived.
As he approached the village, his attention was taken with a young woman sitting in a field with her head on her knees. He went over to her for she seemed in distress and asked if he might help. As she looked up, he could see she was crying. She said no one could help her. But when she perceived he was wearing the clerical collar of a minister, she added, "…except God."
She said, "My girl friend and I have been praying all night for my father." She revealed he was being taken up with the Communists who were then gathering on the island. The two girls were praying he would become saved. Then she added, "And we have been praying Duncan Campbell will come here."
He looked at her and said, "I’m Duncan Campbell."
He then told how the tears from her eyes ran down his cheeks as she hugged him and said over and over, "Oh, He’s a Covenant keeping God! He’s a Covenant keeping God!"
Needless to say, God moved.
When I heard that story I knew those girls knew something about God and His Covenants I was longing to know. I began weeping. The Holy Spirit was teaching me.
About that time, Charles Weston from San Francisco, came to us telling about The Seven Covenants God made with His people and the impact they will have today on us who will know them. I lost his notes, but his outline has remained with me. I give it now with some of the understanding that is working its way into me. There is a hope and a conviction that as we take a regard for these Covenants, something of new light and life will come to birth in us for the awesome hour upon us. It is time to see the culmination of all the Covenants. Their statements of purpose and promise are ready to be planted in our hearts like seed. They will develop in us to make us into children of the Kingdom—the seed for the Son of Man to plant in the world.
Each point of the Seven reaches for the New Covenant, ready to leave their impact on the closing of the age. I pray the understanding born of their truth will find release in you and help equip you for the day the Lord will reach into His great "grain bin" to take up His seed for planting. He will throw us to the wind to land in a world broken up in its turmoil, made ready finally to receive His Kingdom.
In the day when God shall shake not the earth only, but also heaven, something that cannot be shaken will have worked its way into us. This is a Kingdom which cannot be moved, ready to release its glory and power in us. In the Kingdom we shall discover new dimensions of God’s grace, whereby we may serve Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Heb 12:26-28) In discovering the Covenants, we find our release from fear of God’s will, from fear of the enemy and from our own fear of failure. If we know the Covenants, we will become a stable people for an unstable time.
We give the barest Scriptural reference to tell of the initiation of each Covenant. Scriptures that unfold are as vast as the Bible is itself.
1. The Edenic "Covenant"—Gen 1:26
2. The Adamic "Covenant"—Gen 3:14-17
3. The Noahic Covenant—Gen 9:11
4. The Abrahamic Covenant—Gen 12:3,7; 17:7
5. The Mosaic Covenant—Ex 24:8
6. The Davidic Covenant—II Sam 7:10-16
7. The New Covenant—Jer 31:31
Names given some parts of the Covenant are arbitrary, but they serve to help identify the participants and circumstances of their inception. To some the term "covenant" is not applied in Scripture, but the force of their Word brings them into the class of being covenantal.
Although they each come out of the composite Old Covenant, the Word and purpose of them all—with the possible exception of the Noahic Covenant—reach into the New Covenant to find their fulfillment. In the Old was the shadow; in the New is the reality. We are blest when we can train our gaze on the reality and find its substance, using the shadows as signposts to carry us onward.
We are already familiar with the term "covenant" to the extent that we speak freely of the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament." A testament is a "covenant." Francis R. Steele, in The Biblical Expositor, expresses this well. "Since a testament is a covenant, a contract of special promise, the Old Testament by its very title reveals a God Who is ready to make a vital contract with men." In the unfolding of the Covenants we find the unfolding of God’s promises that reveal His perfect plan and purpose for us. They present us with binding agreements carrying with them the force and power of His Kingdom.
In recently published articles we have been concerned primarily with the Covenant into which God entered with David. In it lies the basis for the promise of Psalm 2 by which God gave Rulership of the earth to His begotten Son. Clearly, this One to Whom the Kingdom is promised is Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3).
Before considering more of the Davidic Covenant—the main point of our present concern—it will serve us well to see more of the outline and scope of all the Covenants. In their unfolding we learn what has been God’s purpose from the beginning for the man and woman He placed in Eden. Even though they fell under the deception of the serpent, God has not turned from the primal purpose He gave them. It remains to alight upon us. In seeing the Covenants, we can know to what we are called. And, because of the interposition of God’s grace proffered us in Christ Jesus, we can yield to our calling.
In this brief survey we can only make small strides toward full Covenant knowledge. But in discovering the Covenants, we are moving toward the perfect day with its light that shines brighter all the way. We are moving toward a time when our understanding will no longer be fragmentary but will find its full release as we come to know ourselves in Christ Jesus. Then that which is in part shall be done away (I Cor 13:10). Our imperfection will come to an end and we shall be free to move in God’s highest calling. This will bring us to the point we find in Mt 13:38 where the Lord takes us, the children of the kingdom, and sows us in His field which is the world.
THE FIRST COVENANT
First there is the Edenic "Covenant," the Statement God made to Adam and Eve in the Garden. They are the ones to whom we trace our lineage. Although much of the line is shady and unknown along the way, we can conclude we have come along in their shadow to receive the commission laid on them. David knew this. The writer of Hebrews knew it. The New Covenant clearly embraces this primal purpose God laid on our ancient Parents and draws us into it.
Take careful note of the five points of Gen 1:28 as it lays down the first stated purpose God had for the Man and Woman of His creation. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, 1Be fruitful, and 2multiply, and 3replenish the earth, and 4subdue it: and 5have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Some have thought to see in the word replenish the idea of filling again, as though the earth had at one time been filled and the Man and Woman were commanded to refill it. This, however, does not bear out in the Hebrew word, mahlah, here translated "replenish." Simply, they were given an earth that was empty of their kind and told to "fill it." In their commission God told them to subdue the earth and have dominion. Thus, we see the primary purpose for mankind—both man and woman—besides populating the earth was governmental.
They failed. This is brought all too soon to our attention in Gen 6:13 where the Lord sadly had to say, …the earth is filled with violence through them. But, it is clear the purpose for which the Man and Woman were created remained and has come through all generations to alight on us upon whom the ends of the world ("the closing acts of the ages") are come (I Cor 10:11).
David was particularly taken with this purpose stated by God in Eden. His words in Ps 8:4-6 are significant in regard to this. As he picked up on what the Lord God originally said, he considered how frail mankind had become upon whom so great a commission rests. He asked this question before the Lord: What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?—:4. The first Hebrew word for man in this verse is enosh. It means "frail, mortal man; subject to death." When he spoke of the son of man, he used the word adam, from adamah which means "earth." Thus the term means "earth born man." This is in reference to what the descendants of Adam had become: frail, mortal, bound to earth. Yet God visitest this man of His creation. He has continued giving attention to the people on whom He placed the high commission to subdue the earth and have dominion.
Let us go on in the Ps 8 passage: For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels—:5. The Hebrew word translated angels is elohim, the same word translated God in Gen 1:1—and hundreds of times through the Old Testament. The phrase a little lower than the angels mean "a little less than God."
The man and woman created in God’s image and after His likeness were crowned…with glory and honour. God made them to have dominion over the works of His hands. He put all things under their feet. Even though they became frail and bound to the earth, the glory and honour with which they would function was from out of the heavens. This called for a work of grace.
Both in the Gen 1:28 statement and here in Ps 8 the realm of man’s government seems to extend only over the lower forms of life—all sheep and oxen…beasts of the field, etc.—verses 5-8. But when we see the New Covenant understanding of it carried forward in the Book of Hebrews, we find the realm of committed government is unlimited. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him—Heb 2:8a.
In this present day, imperfection remains with us trying to rule us. Being honest, we don’t see everything put under us—particularly our passions, our desires, our worries and our fears, and the continual pull toward death that rests on us. Because of this, we’re drawn to look at this Hebrews passage carefully. I remember the day a light came on in it for me. See it with me. But now we see not yet all things put under him—Heb 2:8b. This gives hope. It is a powerful hope, as unlimited as all the triumph the Lord Jesus won for us.
But we see Jesus…Heb 2:9a. Thus, we are drawn into the New Covenant.
In Heb 2:8 I underlined the word now and the words not yet. I learned if we place too much emphasis on the now, we will stay focused on the imperfect day fraught with hardship and little hope. But the not yet points to the perfect day. It is Pro 4:18 that helps us here. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. There is a light ready to shine on our path with a glory ready to increase day after day.
Have we found the perfect day in this path?
But, even in the imperfection of our walk, we learn to fix our gaze on Jesus. This was Paul’s secret that gave him triumph in his path. He said, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus—Phil 3:14. The word mark is from the Greek skopós, "a distant object on which the eye is fixed." Paul, apparently as frail as any of us, kept Christ in His range of view. He kept his scope on Him. He was Paul’s goal. And He, the perfect One, is waiting to become ours. As we see Him, we draw from His perfection.
We look at the two verses following Heb 2:8 to see the perfection toward which we are moving. These two verses—even now—wait for our embrace.
Verse 9—But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower ("for a little while lower") than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour (better: "crowned with glory and honor through the suffering of death’); that He by the grace of God should taste death ("enter into death by His Own experience") for every man.
Verse 10, For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain ("the prime Author") of their salvation perfect ("brought to His place of completion") through sufferings.
The word glory to which the Captain of our salvation brings us is a word of government. At some point it is used to speak of the "dignitaries" of earthly government. But here, Christ is bringing us to the glory of His Government, won for us through His sufferings. We discover this when we discover Him—and learn to keep Him in our scope.
See now where Jesus is and where He is bringing us. Paul’s understanding in Colossians applies here and shows how far Christ’s rule reaches, even now. This is helpful as we learn to see Him in the byways of life. His rule extends everywhere. Therefore, when we see Him ruling, we can see Him everywhere. For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be 1thrones, or 2dominions, or 3principalities, or 4powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him—Col 1:16. Since He is the Lord of creation, He has the right to reign over all. In fact, every realm of rulership was created by Him—and for Him. It is thus, as Ruler, we are learning to see Jesus. The marvel is that He is drawing us into the rulership with Him. We can never find this apart from Him, but in Him we are finding its fullness, even now.
As we grow in knowing Him, we learn to let His Rule come over on the whole of our living. In the face of everything that arises in us, and against us, contrary to His Kingdom, we are learning it is possible that we can always triumph in Christ (II Cor 2:14). This is an awesome, and some times awful, process—except for His grace. It is an enabling grace that comes on when we seek Him and allow it to descend upon us. (Oh, let us wait before Him for His enabling grace!)
The question comes: how can we see Jesus? Our vision is clouded. For most of us how to behold Him remains a mystery.
David gives us help. He said, I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry—Ps 40 :1. "Waiting, I waited, without ceasing, before Him, with a cry that would not go away. He heard me and approached me to rescue me."
We know we are called to rule, but too often we are left baffled in the battle with but one thing left to us: to cry—and then to see Him. And that’s enough. Ps 34:6 lets us in on this secret. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
David give us another key in Ps 27:4. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the House of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His Temple. When we have a heart single toward the Lord and there is but one thing we desire, we can come on to the place—yea, we will come on to the place—where we see Him.
There are a few things I believe the Lord has taught me about seeing Him. If we are to behold Him, we must know where He is. When we wait before Him with His Word, we can see Him in the Word. When we recognize His Body, we can see Him in His body. (Thus we are inquiring in His Temple.) When I know He has come in my brother or my sister, I can see Him in their person. (Thus we behold the beauty of the LORD.) When I know He is dwelling in me, I can see Him and know Him very intimately and personally. And, amazingly, I have learned I can see Him in the byways of life, even sometimes when everything around me is falling to pieces and there is nothing religious or apparently holy in sight.
We’ll never forget that time in the hospital room when Glenda was mangled by the surgeon’s knife after her mastectomy and reconstruction. It was painful and dark and ugly—and then He came and made it a holy time. Those times come, so filled with grace and peace and healing—and governmental authority. On I could go…
Seeing Him is not necessarily with our natural eyes—maybe it will never be while this age lasts—but with an enlightenment that comes to the eyes of our understanding (Eph 1:18). I think this is better even than seeing Him in some natural way, for this kind of seeing is inward and draws us to know His presence in us.
Heb 12:2 speaks of looking unto Jesus. This word looking is from the Greek aphoráo, "to look upon with undivided attention by looking away from every other object." Don’t we see here what may be our hindrance sometimes in not seeing Him? Beholding Him will take time—maybe a long time—for purging our spirit from distractions, training our mind’s eye till we see Jesus only.
Even if it’s just a little time each day, great benefit can come to the person who will be still before Him, watch for Him, and desire to see Him more than anything else in all the world.
The New Covenant is drawing us on toward this completion of the Edenic "Covenant." As the first stated purpose from God for us was the call to rule, it becomes settled with us when we learn to see Jesus.
THE SECOND COVENANT
Second is the Adamic "Covenant," made with our Parents after their fall into deception and sin. Again, this is not called "covenant" in the Scriptures, but the force of its Word carries with it the weight of a covenant. There is a threefold Word for us to see in it: the Word to the serpent, the Word to the woman and the Word to Adam. Amazingly, it is the Word to the serpent that claims our first, and most intent, gaze. In it we find the first proclamation of the Gospel. Is this a reminder to us that before we may walk in the fullness to which we are called in Christ Jesus, we must first make a declaration to the enemy who opposed our Parents in the Garden and who remains resolved to oppose us?
I think so.
Many persons continue to walk in a natural and spiritual bondage as with a ball and chain about their feet. Is this not because they have failed to tell the devil what can be known of his defeat?
See this Word to the serpent: Gen 3:15—And I will put enmity ("hatred") between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it (literally, "He") shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel. Just as the third chapter in from the beginning of the Bible introduces the serpent, so the third from the end tells clearly who he is. See this passage and see a little more about his defeat: And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent ("that serpent of old"), which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season—Rev 20:1-3.
The serpent in the Garden was the Devil, even Satan. Can we not say his enmity reached its apex when he struck his death blow on the Seed of the woman as he pursued Him to death on the Cross? That desperate act of his turned out to be no more than a bruise on Christ’s heel. The serpent was overcome, most powerfully and decisively, when God raised the Seed of the Woman from the dead. Thus, the effort made by Satan to evade his doom became the very means of its accomplishment. It was through the death of Christ that he who had the power of death was brought down. Indeed, the writer of Hebrews tells us how through death Christ destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil—Heb 2:14. The word destroyed is from the Greek katargéo which means "to render useless and unproductive." That triumph from the Cross remains, to belong to us who are joined with Christ in this latter day.
There is the possibility that the reference to His heel is a reference to the Body of Christ, the Church of the last days. Should this be so, we can see in it the enmity that will extend from the anti-Christ to the Church in the day when Satan makes his last fierce attempt to gain the heavenly Throne, having only the heel of Christ to strike. But the God of peace—the One Who has wrought our peace for us—shall bruise Satan under our feet. As Paul continues this from Rom 16:20, he says, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. What is so final and powerful in our overcoming Satan, but the grace extended to us in our Lord Jesus Christ?
If, indeed, this Genesis Word to the serpent carries an impact to the end of this age, we have further insight regarding it from Paul. He describes in II Thes how, with the enmity still raging, the wicked one will make his last bold move to gain the temple of God, still, as it were, only to reach Christ’s heel. What vicious enmity has waited for the closing day! II Thes 2:8 describes how it will turn out. The Lord shall consume (the wicked one) with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy (him) with the brightness of His coming (His Parousia). Again destroy is from the Greek katargéo—meaning also "make empty and unmeaning; render powerless."
There are but four chapters in the Bible where there is no devil with whom we must contend: the first two chapters of Genesis, and the last two chapters of Revelation. G.W. Bullinger has told us they reach like a clasp to join the whole of God’s Word in a completed revelation. The picture did not begin with Satan, nor will it end with him. He is a loser all the way. We can let him know we know this.
Now, let us see what the Lord said to the Woman just after her expulsion with her husband from Eden. Gen 3:16—Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. The best efforts of vainglorious movements promising liberation for women succeed in drawing womankind from God’s highest purpose for her. While they bring some sense of natural fulfillment, tinged with a sense of revenge on the man who abused her, it leaves the woman dry and lonely. The sorrow of womankind will only continue till it is removed in Christ Jesus, and in Him only. See Gal 3:28 where Paul tells us in Christ Jesus…there is neither male nor female. Wherein any curse remains upon woman because of our Mother Eve’s sin, it is absolved in Christ Who has made the way open for every woman—and man—to become a new creature. (II Cor 5:17) Then can come the reigning.
Should not the men who have taken unseemly and strong rule over their wives take note of this? Inordinate dominion is part of the curse; it is not part of the Redemption.
This point of the ancient Word to Eve has been grabbed by many seeking to walk in New Covenant reality by maintaining that women must be in subjection to their husbands, or to whatever male figures she may function around. My wife and I have had to deal with this, with our share of criticism, as I’ve recognized God’s call and anointing on her. Had I commanded her to be in silence when people were in need of deliverance, I would have had to answer to the many who would have remained in bondage had she not ministered to them, and to the Holy Spirit Who would have used her as His instrument. We’ve learned to solve many a problem in this area by watching the Holy Spirit move and by together yielding to His leading and anointing.
I remember one day after I had "brought the message" in a conference gathered of some of the most "spiritual" people in the land where apparently only men were invited to speak. Strangely, as I finished speaking, I felt I was to ask Glenda to come and lead us in prayer. I did not know what the Lord was speaking to her. As she came and stood by me, she said the Lord had revealed to her there were a number of men present who were in need of deliverance from homosexuality. I could have fallen through the floor. Why did she have to say that! Afterward, for some days, they had to give us a special room for ministering to person after person who came seeking help and deliverance from sexual bondages. Had I not recognized the call and anointing for ministry on her, many would have remained bound, for in that gathering no recognition was given to the ministry of deliverance.
Even though it was womankind through whom deception entered the race, in Christ she is set free and made alive with His Own life. Now, it is not the matter of the woman submitting to the man, nor the man to the woman, but together they both submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is made real and vital with us through the Holy Spirit and His operation in our midst.
Then, see this Word to the man: Gen 3:17—And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life… As with woman, sorrow for man continues till it is removed in Christ. Again, Paul sees wherein lies the completion of the promise that overcomes the curse. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive—I Cor 15:22. The marvel is that even the ground loses it cursedness for the man who knows who and where He is in Christ. In Christ, a man’s source of livelihood and sustenance will become blessed, and so his whole family can be blessed.
For those suffering deprivation, let us take note. The curse is removed—from both man and woman—not for selfish indulgence, but that the necessities of life may be forthcoming. This will be so even in the time of trouble and famine that may soon rest upon the earth. For this time the Lord Jesus enjoins us to place our lives in right perspective to God’s Government. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you—Mt 6:33. "Make the Kingdom of God the sole object of your search. It is in this you will be made right, and you will find released unto you all the necessities for your living." Jesus teaches us—both men and women—to bring our lives into alignment with God’s Kingdom. There we find a resource for life arising from a river of living water that flows from a watershed far above the earthly plane. It is never contaminated, never clogged. Out of this stream from above, relationships will find healing. Pain will find its balm. Ugliness will find its beauty. The darkness and the light will become both alike when God possesses the inner parts of our beings where in us this river will flow (Ps 139:12,13). Problems that had no solution will find absorption in the Grace and Government that we are discovering in Christ Jesus.
In closure of this brief section, let us see something more from Paul about Adam and the unusual relationship he bears to Christ.
•Rom 5:14 …Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure (from the Greek túpos, "type") of Him that was to come. Adam, federal head of our race, introduced Death. As Paul wrote this, He placed a Definite Article before the word thánatos, "death," making it "the Death." Thus, Adam brought into the race the realm of death that has held governance over every person who has lived, with the notable exceptions of Enoch, Moses and Elijah—all of whom seem to have exited earth’s realm through some other portal.
Christ broke Death’s government. See what Peter said in that Pentecostal sermon. …God hath raised up (Christ Jesus), having loosed the pains ("birth pangs") of ("the") Death: because it was not possible that He should be holden ("kept under the government") of it (Ac 2:24). After Christ broke the stronghold of Death—thrown on us by Adam, and intensified by the Law given through Moses—it can no longer reign. Note well the progression. Adam brought in Death, even making it a necessity. Moses brought in the Law, confirming the necessity for death. Him that was to come, the Seed of the Woman, our Lord Jesus Christ, broke the curse of both the Death and the Law. In Christ, neither judgment coming from the Law nor threat from the realm of Death hold any dominion over us.
•I Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. It is our relationship with Adam that has left us with the morbid infection leading to death. It is our relationship with Christ, and with Him alone, that breaks this.
•I Cor 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Here, Paul’s Word about Adam comes from Gen 2:7. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. It is to be noted that the word life in this Old Testament verse is from a Hebrew Plural form. Thus, the breath of life becomes "the breath of lives." This means "life in its fullness." Before Adam invited the infection of sin into his race, he had within him a life that could best be described by the word abundant. This is the word the Lord Jesus used when He said, …I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly—Jn 10:10b. Again, an old Wesleyan hymn expresses something wonderful for us: In Him, that is, in Christ Jesus, the sons of Adam boast more blessing than their father lost.
The snare into which our early Parents drew us is broken in Christ. In Him the Covenants of Promise point to a sure hope. Those who know what the Lord Jesus finished see already the fruit of those Promises. And, there is a greater manifestation yet to come.
THE THIRD COVENANT
Third is the Noahic Covenant stated so clearly in Gen 9:11—And I will establish My Covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. Oh, can we but see it! Through the flood, a corrupting influence was removed from the earth lest the Seed of the Woman should lose its power to crush the head of the serpent’s seed. That holy Seed, set to destroy the seed of the serpent, was preserved in Noah and his progeny. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations. This means he was pure in his lineage, with a pedigree not corrupted by an evil pervading the earth. He was a man who walked with God (Gen 6:9). His was the one family left in the earth from whom the holy Seed might emerge not corrupted.
It was necessary that Christ come in the flesh, from a lineage not mingled with a diabolical line. We find in this the background as to why opposing spirits will resist confessing that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (I Jn 4:3). Think on it. By coming in the flesh, He could crush the head of the serpent’s seed. Thus, demons are reluctant to admit that He came born of the woman.
The serpent, left with a Word as strong as a Covenant that his head would be bruised, had but one hope: to prevent the emergence on the scene of the One Who would bruise his head. This hope—as vain as any hope might ever be—had come with the idea that he might corrupt the Seed of the Woman with his own nature and, thus, disqualify the Holy One from His place in the Covenant. His plan became evident when the nephilim came on the scene. These were the giants ("the fallen ones") who were in the earth in those days; and also after that (Gen 6:4, then Num 13:33). Their aim was to corrupt the holy Seed and make Him ineligible to strike the head of the serpent’s seed. Gen 6:1-13 is ready to give us much understanding regarding this satanic attempt to corrupt that promised Seed. The flood was of proportion large enough to remove the threatened attack on the Seed. Thus, the flood was a great step from God toward our redemption. Floating in that ark, safe above those waters, was the Hope of our Redemption—brought there by God’s grace extended toward Noah.
The Lord Jesus gave us much to learn from the time of Noah. He said, And as it was in the days of Noe (Noah), so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man—Lk 17:26. There is one thing to be noted here. In the Greek New Testament, the term as it was is stronger than conveyed by these words alone. From the Greek kathós, it should read "just as it was"—perhaps even "just exactly as it was"—in the days of Noah. There was something in those days that will find a precise likeness in the latter days. As we consider the passages closely, it becomes evident there will arise in the earth a corruption as subtle and determined as the corruption that came in the Days of Noah. In the early days the corruption was aimed toward hindering the advent of Christ Who would come in the flesh. In the latter days, it will be a spiritual assault, apparently aimed at His body. It is too late to stop His appearing in the flesh; He has already come. The serpent must now work to corrupt His coming in the Spirit in His body.
It is our simple understanding with regard to the Covenant made with Noah that the earth shall never again suffer the judgment of a flood. Oh, but what might be God’s last-day judgment against the serpent to stop his overthrow of Christ’s body? Could it involve fire? Could it not come at the Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ? II Thes 2:8 goes a long way toward giving us the answer.
Of them all, in the unfolding of God’s Covenant purpose for man, the Covenant with Noah remains the most unconditional. Lying within it, we find the determination of God’s grace to bring us to His side as heirs in His Kingdom. There’s much to see in this regard. One day…
Prophets picked up on these Covenants and pointed us on. Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel ("God is with us")—Is 7:14. The holy Seed of the woman was preserved till the time appointed. When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law—Gal 4:4.
THE FOURTH COVENANT
Fourth is the Abrahamic Covenant with its primary declaration in Gen 12:1-3. Of first note is the requirement placed on the man Abram—later to be called Abraham—that he become separated from his kindred. So singular and significant was God’s call on him that he must not be left entangled with ties that would hinder God’s purpose. Take note of the eight points of this Divine Statement, seven of which come forth as promises and which the Lord later will call a covenant. Now the LORD had said unto Abram, 1Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: And 2I will make of thee a great nation, and 3I will bless thee, 4and make thy name great; 5and thou shalt be a blessing: 6and I will bless them that bless thee, 7and curse him that curseth thee: 8and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
From the beginning, the stamp of impossibility rested on these promises. This meant the burden for their fulfillment was the Lord’s. He had promised Abram a lineage when he had no children, nor could his wife bear him a child. This called for the development in the man of a quality not before known: faith in God.
But, let’s see faith’s development. Before it came forth in Abram, he questioned God: …what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless…? …Behold, to me thou hast given no seed (Gen 15:2,3). In response, God but increased the extent of the promise. He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be (15:5). Instead of lessening the unattainable goal, the Lord enlarged its promise and left the man with two choices: to believe or not believe. Fixing things—either through the hand of God or man—so the promise might become an attainable possibility would introduce what Paul would call the flesh—Rom 8:1-13. This would bring corruption to the Covenant and introduce pain and trouble.
At this point, faith entered the picture, albeit a wavering faith. But, it was sufficient to gain a standing with God. See this powerful verse, one that Paul would later take to lay on us who will come into Covenant with the Lord. And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6). From the context of this verse we find it was when Abram believed concerning the Seed that faith was reckoned to him for righteousness (Rom 4:9). This points to what is the beginning of New Covenant life, to be entered by faith.
From this verse, Gen 15:6, comes our word "amen." Here the word believed is from the Hebrew ah-man, a wonderful, and rather complex, word whose basic meaning is "to confirm" or "to support." This is its first occurrence in the Bible, used here in a causative sense that would make it mean "to believe in" or "to rely on." Abram was "caused" to find his support in what the Lord had said. What caused him to do that? The Lord Himself did. He was the first man recorded in the Bible to place his trust in the Lord as he laid on the Lord the weight for bringing forth the promise of the Covenant. He apparently lifted his hand to God and said, "Amen! Oh, I believe You, Lord!"
We follow in his train as "believers."
I heard this story, and I’ve told it. I place it here because it helps bring an understanding of "faith" to which Abram introduced us. There was a Bible translator working among a remote people who had no written language. He could discover in their spoken words nothing to convey the meaning of "believe" or "have faith." At a loss as to how to interpret even Jn 3:16, he labored in his hut, praying and listening. One day a native to the language came into the missionary’s little room. Being nearly exhausted from running, he threw himself into a large chair. In his tongue he said something that could be interpreted, "Oh, how good it is to throw my whole weight on this chair." The missionary jumped up, exclaiming, "That’s it! That’s it!" Now he could translate Jn 3:16 into their language—with this meaning: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever "will lean his whole weight on" Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
From the time of Adam till Abram man had watched for the Holy Seed that would crush the head of the Serpent. The only word had been that it would be the Seed of the woman who would perform this powerful feat. Then the Lord began to speak to Abram of his seed. There are some *fifteen statements about this seed through the Genesis account of God’s dealing with this man. In practically every reference to his seed it must be concluded that the word is used in a plural sense. Yet Paul made this astounding statement: Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. This could only be with reference to the statement of Gen 21:12. …for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Here it occurs in a singular sense. Finally there was some hope, though distant and unclear, but seen by the Holy Spirit and revealed to Paul. This Seed of Abraham, embracing the Seed of the Woman, pointed to the Christ Himself, the promised Redeemer, the hoped-for "Serpent Crusher." Abram, reaching toward Him in faith when He could be known only in a yet shadowy promise, received a right standing with God. What a powerful introduction to faith!
Then there came a strange and dark time. To seal the promise and to celebrate the faith, the Lord instructed Abram to offer a sacrifice. But before he could build a fire for its consumption, three things happened. •Gen 15:11—It was attacked by wild fowls that came down upon the carcasses, forewarning that the Seed for whom the sacrifice was being offered would be attacked. •15:12—Then a horror of great darkness fell upon Abram, foreshadowing the time of darkness and slavery that would rest on the people who would bear the Seed for four hundred years in Egypt. This, however, would not disannul the promise of the Covenant. •15:17—Then came a phenomenon upon the altar—behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces of the sacrifice. A fire from a source not seen would ignite this man’s descendants as a people offered to God. It was a supernatural fire, drawn from heaven itself. Could this have been pointing to Pentecost?
That day of Abram’s belief was prophetic. There came a visitation from the Lord. See this: In the same day the LORD made a Covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land…(Gen 15:18). Abram believed concerning the Seed. It was counted to him for righteousness. He laid a sacrifice on the altar. A prophetic Word came to him. And, God made a Covenant with him. But, even with all this, God was in no hurry to fulfill His promise. The man was 75 years old when the visitation came. Then came the waiting. After the faith into which he entered with relative ease, he entered into trial. Nearly a quarter of a century passed with no evidence the Lord was faithful. In this time, weariness from believing but not seeing came upon both him and Sarai, his wife. In order to "help" make the promise of the Lord good, she offered Hagar. This intervention on the part of the flesh brought sorrow—and, should we say, still brings sorrow?
But, keep watch on the amazing grace of God. What Abram and those women did in the flesh did not make void the Promise. When Abram was ninety years old and nine, we find in Gen 17 that the Lord visited him again. Take note of the opening Word of this chapter. In it God revealed more of Who He is. He said, I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect—Gen 17:1. The Almighty God is El Shaddai, "God, bountiful in grace and creation, powerful to supply the needs of His people." This Name continues with us in the New Covenant. See this: And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty—II Cor 6:18.
I think there was some repentance on the part of Abram at this time. At least he fell on his face when God talked with him—Gen 17:3. It was then God changed his name. As for Me, behold, My Covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram ("Great Father"), but thy name shall be Abraham ("Father of Great Multitudes"); for a father of many nations have I made thee (Gen 17:4,5). Into the middle of Abram’s name, the Lord inserted the letter that stands for His Own Name, JAH (Ps 68:4). The Covenant Name of the Lord entered into Abram’s name as he became a Covenant man, Abraham.
Take note now of this further Word to Abraham: And I will establish My Covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting Covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee (Gen 17:7). The Covenant came from out of eternity. It belongs to the ages. It can stand the test of time and the onslaught of denial from multitudes who say it is not a true covenant. It can even survive the time when it will seem to have been forgotten by God. Let us remember it is an everlasting Covenant; it has the stamp of eternity on it. Whatever abuse it suffers, either from disbelievers or from what may seem to be apparent neglect on the part of the Lord, it remains because it is eternal.
At this point God set the seal of the Covenant with Abraham. This is My Covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised (Gen 17:10). Paul drew this into the New Covenant with an insight from the Holy Spirit that the natural cutting off of the flesh is now superseded by a spiritual circumcision, far more extensive and meaningful. See this: Ye are complete ("brought to your fullness") in Him (Christ Jesus), Which is the Head of all principality and power: in Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ—Col 2:10,11. He makes it clear again: For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh—Phil 3:3. The circumcision of Christ, which has become our circumcision, was effected at the Cross and made final in His Resurrection. This is Paul’s message, that in Christ Jesus we are crucified, buried, raised from death’s dominion and seated in the heavenlies. In Him our flesh is cut off to rule us no more. We are brought into His Kingdom. This is a powerful circumcision.
See a little more about the Covenant with Abraham. Before the son of promise came through Sarai, whose name the Lord would change to Sarah ("A Woman of Honor"), Abraham cried unto the Lord, O that Ishmael might live before thee!—Gen 17:18. Ishmael was the son born of Hagar. We know his progeny today as the Arab world. The Muslims, who by and large, have placed their religion over on the Arab people, have given Ishmael a more exalted position than Isaac. Called by them Ismail, they see him, the first born son, as the one Abraham offered in sacrifice. They say he was the one rescued and blessed by God to be the head of the great Arab people. Of course this does not follow though in the Hebrew Scriptures which we see as the Word of God. Nor can it be found in the Koran, the holy word of the Muslims. It was an idea developed in the minds of the interpreters of Muslim theology and now nearly universally accepted by them. Of course, this would give credence to their present day claim to the Land and rule out the promise that it should go to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac. But, see this: And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish My Covenant with him for an everlasting Covenant, and with his seed after him (Gen 17:7). Then see this as God says more: And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (17:8).
Paul saw the Life of this Covenant. He saw how it reaches us who come to God, as did Abraham, by faith. He teaches that we who come by believing in Christ Jesus enter into the blessing and provision of the Abrahamic Covenant. It is evident with Paul this is a spiritual blessing with a heavenly provision. He says to the Gentile believers of Galatia, Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise—Gal 4:28. The predominate purpose and provision of the Covenant belongs to eternity. Before the natural seed can enter in, the spiritual seed must know their place in the Covenant. Thus, believers in Christ, Whom the New Testament sees as the Son of Abraham, are arising throughout the nations, opening the way for the Covenant with Abraham to show its fullness to his natural descendents.
In Rom 4:13 Paul makes another compelling statement with regard to the promise given Abraham. For the promise, that He should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his Seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. What strikes us here is that the promised inheritance is the world, the kósmos, the secular order of affairs on earth. This may seem incredible but bears out with the promise to Abraham that all families of the earth would be blessed in him (Gen 12:3). It also bears out with the promise of Ps 2:8 to God’s only begotten Son that He would receive the heathen for His inheritance. As well, there are the statements in Revelation regarding all nations that come under the rule of the Lord Jesus. Let us also remember that the Lord, after he was raised from the dead, commissioned His followers to make disciples of all nations—Mt 28:18.
The fullness of the inheritance promised Christ Jesus—and us—through Abraham is not in the distant heavens. It is in this present earth, but under the Government of the heavens. Indeed, there is not a plot of ground even the size of a postage stamp where the Name and authority of the God’s Son will not extend. It is according to God’s Covenant that the world belongs to Him—and to us who are in Him.
The shell of the promise to Abraham was to his natural descendants through Isaac, reaching for that land at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean known then as Canaan. But the kernel of the Covenant is greater and embraces the holy Seed to whom we are introduced in Matthew’s Gospel as the Son of Abraham—Mt 1:1. This is Jesus Christ. Through Him we are drawn into the life and blessing of this Covenant.
Volumes can be written about what the Lord laid on Abraham. We can gain but a glimpse in this article. There is a further point, however, that we can see. In the Covenant, God promised to bless him. In Christ, we’re brought into this blessing. Again, Paul helps us see the blessing of greatest importance is that to which Eph 1:3 points. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Our primary blessing is spiritual; our primary inheritance is in heavenly places in Christ. Entering this, we enter life in its fullness—an abundant life.
God is calling us to live out of the blessing of this Covenant. It gives us a source for living superseding all other resources of the world which are subject to failure. It gives us an inheritance that goes beyond a plot of land. It brings us a blessing so powerful and compelling that it comes over on every facet of our lives, even making those things which seem awful into things permeated by the goodness of the Lord. We come to the place where, like Abraham, against hope we will believe in hope simply on the basis of what God has said.
Thus, following in the train of Abraham, we become "utterly believing believers." To become this settled, our faith may go through a development, as did Abraham’s. But, also like him, we set our scope on Jesus, as he did on the promised Seed. We are ready to trust God with an implicit confidence, without reservation or doubt, that His Word of promise is sure. The gracious gift of His Spirit in us, enabling us to believe, brings us to the place of being fully persuaded that what He has promised, He is able also to perform. (Rom 4:21) This means "He is powerful to do it." Thus, we enter in as New Covenant people. I think this is the same as being children of the Kingdom. Don’t you?
Thus, there will be a people spread through the world who will stagger not at the promise of God through unbelief, but who will be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Oh! This will be the people that do know their God, who are strong, and do exploits!—Dan 11:32
And oh! Could we but see it! Knowing our place in this Covenant gives us a fortitude to live out of the provision and triumph we discover in the "warfare" and settlement of Eph 6:10-18. At another time in another place we will give more heed to this, but let its Word, even now, come over on you as you "soak" in its revelation.
THE FIFTH COVENANT
Fifth is the Mosaic Covenant brought in because of mankind’s departure from God into sin. God made it with Moses and it spreads through the greater part of Exodus and Leviticus. It finds its summary in what we call the Ten Commandments recorded first in Ex 20:1-17. After Moses had written all the Words of the Lord to be included in it, he observed a sacrifice of blood with the children of Israel. Then he took the Book of the Covenant, and read in the audience of the people. With a lighthearted commitment, they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. To dedicate them, Moses took the blood from the sacrifice and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the Blood of the Covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these Words—Ex 24:4-8.
There was also a ceremonial part of the Law that included instructions for the Tabernacle (called by Moses the Tabernacle of the Congregation—Ex 33:7) and the regulated Sacrifices and Feasts which Paul said are a shadow of things to come—Col 2:17. The Tabernacle was a pattern of things in the heavens brought into the earth to guide us till we know that the tabernacle ("the dwelling place") of God is with men (Rev 21:3). As a standard for righteousness, the Mosaic Covenant leaves us hopeless within itself—but it drives (maybe we should say brings, or leads) us to Christ.
We cannot give the needed space here to so extensive a subject. But, let us at least see some points in the New Testament that emphasize that toward which Moses pointed. Paul makes this statement to summarize it well. Moreover the Law (embracing the whole of the Mosaic Covenant) entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Rom 5:20). The Law made sin evident and left a curse upon every person, none excluded. It left but one door of hope: the grace of God. Oh, yes, we discover grace! For the Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ (Jn 1:17). Paul developed this understanding for us, particularly through Romans and Galatians. These are powerful Epistles to which the Holy Spirit keeps directing us, to soak in their light and partake of the grace and truth revealed in them.
See this from Rom 6:14. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace. Under the New Covenant, the rule of our lives comes under the grace given us in Christ. To effect the righteous requirements of the Law, He has sent the Holy Spirit, holy Agent of the righteousness the Law demands. Instead of on tablets, He is writing the Law in fleshly tables of the heart—II Cor 3:3. This is an amazing work of grace.
Paul shows us what happens if we turn from God’s grace with an idea we can establish our own righteousness before Him. We violate His grace and forfeit its offer of redemption. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (Gal 2:21). And then, Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Gal 5:4), God’s tender *lovingkindness extended us in Christ.
I find this amazing. May you. What we learn of God’s Grace in Romans and Galatians is followed up in Ephesians and Colossians. Romans finds us in sin—all of us—and brings us through repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Ac 20:21) to discover the new life available in Christ. Galatians makes firm that the righteousness and the life of God’s Kingdom can never be known through human attainment. Ephesians picks us up where Romans and Galatians leave off to carry us on to live out of the heavenlies where we learn to reign in life by One, Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17).
The Covenant with Moses necessitated an atonement on three accounts: for •original sin, for the •sinful nature of each individual, and for the •sinful acts committed by all. The blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop with which those ancient priests sprinkled…the Book wherein were written the commandments and ordinations of the Mosaic Covenant, pointed to The Atonement that would find its realization in Christ Jesus—and in Him alone.
Through the ceremonial part of the Covenant made with Moses we find almost all things are by the Law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (no "forgiveness"). But, in those sacrifices made upon the altars as commanded by Moses, there was a remembrance again made of sins every year. The remission was never complete. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Heb 10:3,4). All those sacrifices pointed to the death of the Lamb of God on Calvary. There, the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…foreordained before the foundation of the world…was manifest…for us, who…believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead (I Pet 1:19-21). It is in Him that we are complete, and in Him alone. (Col 2:10) Oh praise His Name!
We could go on, but, let us know that what the Lord Jesus and the Apostles—Paul being special among the Apostles—have laid out for us in the New Testament will carry us on through a lifetime of learning and growth. We have a fountain that will never cease flowing. It will reach with us into the eternity of the Kingdom made firm for us in the Covenant God made with David. With space running short, we will move on to see that Covenant. It provides the foundation for much we have yet to learn. It too will reach with us into eternity.
THE SIXTH COVENANT
Sixth is the Davidic Covenant. This came in a prophetic Word from the Prophet Nathan when David, as King, supposed he should build a house for the Lord. This was so the Ark of the Covenant might no longer remain under curtains. It was a seemingly noble aspiration in which Nathan encouraged David. He said, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee (II Sam 7:3). But on departing, the heavy hand of the Lord came upon the Prophet. God commanded him to take another Word to David, not born out of his own soul nor confirming the ambition of David’s soul, but born of the Holy Spirit. In this Word was the Promise regarding David’s Seed.
We find the initial wording of the Covenant into which God entered with David in II Sam 7:12-17 (repeated in I Chron 17:7-15). It finds enlargement through several of David’s Psalms and becomes the basis for much of the message of the Prophets. Then, it carries us into the New Covenant to introduce us to the Lord Jesus as the Son of David (Mt 1:1). Significantly, Paul’s first statement about Him in his Epistles is that He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3). And—as though wrapping everything up—the concluding statement about Him in the New Testament, born in His Own words, is, I am the Root and the Offspring of David (Rev 22:16).
But, until Brother Weston came in our Summer campmeeting, as I told in the beginning, it never occurred to me there was a "Davidic Covenant" that had reference to any other than David’s son, Solomon. No one had ever called our attention to it as a Covenant Word pertaining to David’s greater Son, even though the New Testament was full of this light. And, much less, never had we seen that the Covenant could have effect in our lives personally.
I had noted that several times through the Gospels some very desperate people, in pleading for healing, had called Jesus the Son of David. In my ignorance I said they were ignorant; they should have called Him the "Son of God." For some reason, it never occurred to me that in every case they were instantly and miraculously healed. There must have been something powerful in recognizing Jesus as the Son of David, even though I didn’t see it.
Then, as Scriptures opened, I saw how the Apostles of the New Testament considered that much of what God spoke to David pertained to the Lord Jesus. I began to see that in the Davidic Covenant lies the basis—I think we might say the foundation—for the coming of God’s Kingdom in the earth through Christ.
But, let’s go on and see the Covenant. We find nine significant points in it. When we look at each one, we see they reach for us who are coming to know the Government of Christ in our lives personally. We will see them unfold if we watch the Holy Spirit’s present movements on the world scene while the age draws to its conclusion.
Some of the points need the understanding that can best come from the Hebrew Original. This is particularly so with Point 8. As we have quoted it from the King James version, there seems no way it could apply to Christ Jesus. But when we see it unfold from the original text, it is all the more applicable to Him, with an amazing amount of lovingkindness revealed in it.
II Samuel 7
8 Now therefore so shalt thou say unto My servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
9 And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
10 Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that He will make thee an house.
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for My Name, and I will stablish the throne of His Kingdom for ever.
14 I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son. If he commit iniquity, I will Chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: (Let us wait for interpretation.)
15 But My mercy shall not depart away from Him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
Each point reaches for us with promise that is firm. They are ready to change our lives as they make us into children of the Kingdom. The Lord is looking for these to plant throughout the earth as seed for His Kingdom (Mt 13:37,38). Through them the Kingdom will spread.
All the Covenants hold Words of power and faithfulness. They are ready to enter our spirits, each one to become like the germ of life in a seed. They will be as commanding and authoritative as the Word that went with the Lord Jesus into His tomb to take the sting from Death and victory from the grave in which He lay.
•Point 1—I will appoint a place for My people Israel—II Sam 7:10. This adds substance to the Covenant God made with Abraham—fourteen generations before—that He would give his descendants all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession (Gen 17:8). The words appoint a place spoken to David carry the promise further than that spoken to Abraham. When this came to David, an appointed place had already been allotted for Israel. We might ask, "Where then is this appointed place promised through David?"
The Prophet Isaiah, about 200 years after David, helps us. He told of an appointment to be effected by the Holy Spirit. See Is 61:1-3 with its 7 points of purpose for the anointing. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me 1to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me 2to bind up the brokenhearted, 3to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 4to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; 5to comfort all that mourn; 6to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, 7to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Take note of point 6 in this passage, and see its relation to the whole. There will be appointment in Zion. II Sam 5:7 tells of the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. This begins pointing us toward God’s Government in the earth. Heb 12:22-24 brings us on to see the heavenly Jerusalem where we discover the general assembly and church of the firstborn (ones), which are written in heaven. These have partaken of Christ’s resurrection and have entered into a Covenant place as first born sons through identification with Christ. They discover mount Sion ("Zion")…the city of the living God where all who dwell know Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant.
There is something amazing about this Heb 12 statement. It begins with But ye are come… This is from the Greek Perfect Tense form of a Verb meaning "to approach; to draw near." Being thus written, it means "you have already approached; you have already drawn near." It becomes evident this is not a future thing to which we look. It is a present reality which we have attained—in Christ Jesus.
Is not this the place to which we find appointment in the Covenant God made with David? It is better than all of Canaan. The Lord Jesus has made it sure for us. The Word given through Paul in Romans and Ephesians guides us into this place. Thus, without straining the issue, we can see that the appointment—or it could be called the ordination—of the Lord for His people is to a place made secure for us by God’s Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh—Rom 1:3—in Whom also we have obtained an inheritance—Eph 1:11.
See this again. The promise to David of a place came long after the promise to Abraham. Whereas the promise to Abraham encompassed the land of Canaan, the promise to David draws in a far more extensive realm, even a place in the heavens, in Christ. The place promised Abraham proves to be but a shadow of the real. The real does not nullify the shadow. The promise of both is valid. As we—most of whom are Gentiles—enter by faith into the Covenant made with Abraham, we open the way into the place appointed for the ones the Prophet Nathan called My people Israel. And let us know this: God has put no difference between us and them (Ac 15:9). The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him (Rom 10:12).
And let us say this: when the true church knows its place in the Covenants, Israel shall find its settlement in the Land to move no more. Neither shall the children of wickedness (those who bring trouble and grievous toil) afflict them any more, as beforetime (II Sam 7:10).
•Point 2—Also the LORD telleth thee that He will make thee an house. This seems a strange Word. But let us see how the Prophets and the Apostles considered it a valid Word for the church that would develop out of the Gentile nations. In Acts 15 we find Paul and Barnabas bringing report to the mostly Jewish church in Jerusalem how the Holy Spirit was moving among the nations. Certain strict ones among the Jerusalem leaders contended the new Gentile believers must become as Jews. Peter, who had come to Jerusalem for the conference, told how the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles as he also had ministered. He contended if the Holy Spirit had seen fit to move on them, it was not necessary to place Jewish restrictions on them. James, who it is apparent was the recognized "Senior Pastor" in Jerusalem, rose to settle the matter with a Word from the Prophet Amos. After this I will return, and will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called, saith the Lord, Who doeth all these things (Ac 15:16,17 from Am 9:11,12).
The house the Lord would build for David, the Tabernacle of David, was being inhabited by Gentile believers! Who could imagine this? Yet, it was the Holy Spirit leading the way into it. He leaves it for us to discover that we who have come from among the nations, and have been visited by the Holy Spirit, have come into this glorious house.
In the face of all its mystery, we are left to discover the fullness of the Word that came through David for those who will dwell in his house. Wonderfully, we find this through His Psalms, full of Messianic truth and promises that flow from the Covenant God made with David. What a resource for Kingdom life, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile! (Rom 2:10) There is no wonder that we who have come to know the Lord Jesus regard the Psalms of David with so much awe.
•Point 3—I will set up thy Seed after thee…II Sam 7:12a. The word set is significant, more so than we might at this time imagine. It is from a Hebrew word meaning "to cause to arise" or "to raise up." For generations the people of Israel have considered this a Messianic promise. Even after Solomon passed on, they longed for the Seed of David to be raised up. Evidently they could see the Covenant promise was of greater force than to have found its fulfillment in Solomon alone. Yet, none saw what Peter saw until the Holy Spirit came. This Covenant Promise would reach through the stronghold of Death itself and liberate One gone there and bring Him to David’s Throne.
In one of the Psalms arising from the time of Israel’s great trial in Captivity there came this cry: LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions: how he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob—Ps 132:1-5. Was David longing for what we know as the church—the true Church, infiltrated with the Kingdom of God in the earth?
Then those early exiled believers in Israel called upon the Lord to remember His promise to David. For Thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of Thine Anointed ("Your Messiah"). The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne—Ps 132:10,11.
Then Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the magnificent Pentecost Day, said, Therefore (David) being a Prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ…Ac 2:30,31a. It was the Holy Spirit in Peter Who revealed that the Covenant Word to David—sworn as an oath—reached through Solomon to apprehend the Lord Jesus in His tomb and bring Him through the Resurrection to the Throne promised His father David.
Christ’s resurrection held a vital connection with His enthronement. He was raised up to sit on the Throne. Thus, the settling of His Kingdom is made firm on two accounts: •the promise of the Covenant made with David and •the actuality of His Resurrection. Both of these have bearing upon us as present realities who know ourselves in Christ. The Kingdom is secure with us. No force in earth, nor in the heavens, can withstand it or revoke its authority when it is set forth in believers who know who and where they are in Christ, and who know Who Christ Jesus in actuality is. Paul knew. He called Him God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh—Rom 1:3.
David’s Covenant carried a power that would defy even Death itself when Christ lay in the tomb. We can well suppose this Covenant power continues. It will reach to the end of the age to defy anti-Christ whose vain hope it is to nullify the promises of this Covenant. In the final day we have two choices with no middle ground: to stand with Christ or to oppose Him. Those who know the Covenant will be strengthened to stand with Him.
•Point 4—…I will establish ("ordain") His kingdom—II Sam 7:12b. This takes further what we saw in the previous point. God will establish the Kingdom of David’s greater Son. The Hebrew text from which this word establish comes is powerful. David used it also in Ps 8:3 to speak of the stars which God ordained. We can consider Christ’s Kingdom when we see the stars. They are both powerful and abiding, mysterious, giving light from the heavens that reaches so far back in time we might well consider it as coming from eternity. But His Kingdom is more real to us than the stars. David knew this. We can reach it personally as we discover the nearness of its light and power.
That the Kingdom is given to Jesus, the Seed of David, and that His Throne is established forever is confirmed again in Lk 1:31-33. The angel Gabriel tells Mary her Son will receive the Throne of David. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His Name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the Throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end—Lk 1:31-33.
In the intriguing Chapter 7 of his Book, the Prophet Daniel saw there would be three dimensions to the eternal Kingdom of God as it would become known in the earth. 1He saw the Throne whereon the Ancient of Days did sit, eternal in the heavens but perceived in the earth—Dan 7:9,10. 2He saw One like the Son of Man to Whom was given dominion, and glory, and a Kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him—Dan 7:13,14. And, 3he saw the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom—Dan 7:22.
Daniel, describing in Dan 7:13 the Son of Man receiving His dominion, used the Hebrew word enosh for man. We found this same word in Ps 8:4. It describes man as weak, frail and subject to death. Thus, Daniel described how Christ would come to His Kingdom. This bears with what Peter said on Pentecost, that He came to His Throne upon being raised from the dead. He apparently still had the marks upon Him of having been in the tomb. Since His Kingdom began when He was resurrected, we no longer have to wait to know it. Knowing the Life of His resurrection, we know the Life of His Kingdom.
•Point 5—He shall build an house for My Name—II Sam 7:13a. This is God’s declaration as to Who would build His House. David longed for the Temple. He wanted to build it—he said, one thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after—but he was disallowed because of the stain of blood on his hands. His son Solomon was qualified to build it. There came a glory upon the house he built, so much so that at its dedication not even the priests could stand for the attending presence of the Lord. But that Temple was temporary. It belonged to the time when the people of Israel still walked under a Covenant that was imperfect. One of the saddest accounts in all Scripture came about four hundred years later when the Prophet Ezekiel told of the departure of God’s Spirit from the temple. In this verse he lets us see what happened: Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from My Sanctuary? (from Ezk 8:6).
Because of sin the Temple became but a building left in ruin. Some faithful ones still mourn for it at the few stones left of a later Temple’s foundation. But, while they cry, there is another Temple built by the greater Son of David, with a greater glory. This is the one of which Paul tells. He saw it in its three dimensions. 1He saw the universal church, all the building fitly framed together growing unto an Holy Temple in the Lord (Eph 2:21). This is the greater Temple, the Church that has no bounds, the dwelling place of the Lord in which He has a place to rest among all the nations. 2Then Paul saw the believers of one locality as a Temple. He said to the Corinthians, Know ye not that ye (a plural word) are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (I Cor 3:16). 3Then, he saw an individual believer as a Temple. He said, What? know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost…? (I Cor 6:19).
There is one other mention of an earthly Temple in the New Testament, other than the local site. That to which the Covenant with David had first reference pointed to the Temple built by Solomon, destroyed, then rebuilt under Herod’s rule. Jesus stood outside this one and declared, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up—Jn 2:19. The Jews could not understand this. They said, Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days? But He spake of the Temple of His body (Jn2:20,21). Here we see the movement away from a temple built with dead stones. We begin to see the living Temple, the Lord Jesus Himself. After He departed, we begin beholding the true Temple, built with lively stones (I Pet 2:5), in which God now dwells, and of which Paul told. This is the house the true Son of David was commissioned to build and of which He is the Head, the Temple all true believers know.
•Point 6—I will stablish the Throne of His Kingdom for ever—II Sam 7:13b. While this is like the promise of Point 4, there is something added. The Kingdom will be for ever. There will come no end to its rule. It comes out of eternity past and reaches into the ages to come. Even though eternal, it passes through this present time for us to know.
It is here the Prophet Isaiah gives the greatest of enlightenment. Of the increase of His Government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this—Is 9:7. This is full of promise. His Government shall never cease in its increase in the earth. Its foundation will lie in the Covenant made with David. Its peace can always be known. The justice of its judgments will be sure. In performing the acts and judgments of His Kingdom the Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against his enemies—Is 42:13. Can any force of darkness or evil prevail when confronted with the power and authority of this Kingdom?
The Word is clear as to our place in the Kingdom. It comes from the resurrected Christ Himself, spoken to His church. To him that over- cometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His Throne—Rev 3:21. What a succession! From the Father, to His only begotten Son Who is the Son of David, to us—for ever.
•Point 7—I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son.—II Sam 7:14a. Heb 1:5 takes this statement from God’s Oath to David and applies it to the Lord Jesus. This confirms, if no other Word would, that the Davidic Covenant pertains to Christ. See it carefully. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?
On two occasions, the Father Himself spoke from the heavens to lay this confirmation on Jesus. Mt 3:17—And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And again, as He was being transfigured before His disciples, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him—Mt 17:5. Of note here, let us observe this admonition from the Father: hear ye Him. "Listen to Him. Give heed to His words. Obey His commands. Receive whatever charge He may lay upon you."
•Point 8—…If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.—II Sam 7:14b. It is here understanding will come to us from the Original. The Hebrew language bears in it some intricacy that will open these words to us as perhaps the most merciful point of the Covenant.
Most interpreters of this whole passage have taken the liberty to assign some of the points to Solomon and others to Christ, dividing its Word as it would seem most fitting to natural reasoning. We have not the right to do this. While they all point to Solomon, they as well all point to Christ. Solomon is the shadow through whom they all pierce to reach the real One for whom is their main intention. This string of words if he commit iniquity would most surely seem unfitting for Christ, until we understand the Hebrew word from which commit iniquity comes. According to its context, it could variably mean "commit iniquity," "suffer the consequences for iniquity," or "bear the punishment for the iniquity of others." Taken here in the context of all these points of the Covenant that reach so forcibly to Christ Jesus, we can but see that its meaning is the latter of the above. The word has as a prefix the Hebrew letter beth which, when affixed to the Infinitive of a Verb, as is the case here, means "in" or "when." Thus we can understand the word from Nathan: "In His bearing punishment for the iniquity of others…" Then append the conclusion: I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.
Oh, think of it! Isaiah takes up this very item when he says prophetically: for He shall bear their iniquities—Is 53:11. That the Lord would chasten Him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men follows us again into Isaiah’s most powerful Word of the Redemption. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed—Is 53:4,5.
And further, in this most powerful of all Messianic prophecies, Isaiah reached into the Davidic Covenant to give us this: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. And even yet more: He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth—Is 53:6,7.
•Point 9—My mercy shall not depart away from Him… Perhaps this is the most important part of the Covenant. It was imbued with mercy, suffused with the lovingkindness of God, run through with His tender care. There was nothing with which David was more taken than with God’s mercy. And, there seemed to have been no quality attending the Lord Jesus more prevalent than mercy. Just in Matthew’s Gospel alone see this cry time and again: two blind men…Thou Son of David, have mercy on us—9:7; a woman of Canaan… Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David—15:22; two blind men…Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David—20:30; …they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David—20:31.
The recognition of Jesus as the Son of David, and the cry for mercy captured His attention. Oh, let this enter our hearts and let us know Him thus today! No one can know His Covenant but who knows His mercy. But the amazing thing: His mercy is available to all.
The Covenant Word that came through Nathan to David was but the beginning of God’s revelation to him. Ps 2, Ps 8, Ps 16, Ps 32, Ps 72, Ps 89, Ps 110 and Ps 132 all contain extensions of that Word. Surrounding these Psalms, which we may well call "High Covenant Psalms," are Psalms of praise, prayer and instruction. They are all ready to release understanding toward us who have entered into Covenant with God through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. There are yet other Psalms that enlarge upon the Covenant Promise. These mentioned are the ones that are thus far laying hold on my own spirit.
THE SEVENTH COVENANT
Seventh is the New Covenant, mentioned first in Jer 31:31. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. The Epistle to the Hebrews gives us much light regarding how the Old gives its light to the New. The Old is the foundation on which the New stands. The Covenant Promise of the Old maintains its stability in support of the New. Even though its rules and practices are ready to vanish away (Heb 8:13), the frame of its promise remains to support us in a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh—Heb 10:20. In the New Covenant we discover a new creature ("a new creation") in which all things are become new—II Cor 5:17. Out of Jews and Gentiles we discover one new man…which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness—Eph 2:15 and 4:24. We are brought to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant—Heb 12:24.
As it were, we receive a new name (Rev 2:17), evidently meaning a new point of relationship with the Heavenly Father, which each can know distinctly as his own. We learn to sing a new song (Rev 5:9) extolling the grace and power of the Lord Who has redeemed us from all nations for His Own. We are made ready for a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1) ruled by a new Jerusalem (Rev 21:2).
In no degree is it by our own attainment or self-determination that we can know Him or the Covenant He mediates. In fact, when the day is over, we will have difficulty explaining that we have attained anything in God’s Kingdom except by the grace revealed in Christ Jesus.
And yet, the condition for the fulfilling of some of the Covenant promises depends on the faithfulness of those to whom God extends them. It is here we have seen the entrance of failure. Hopelessness has loomed over us. But, also, it is here we have begun to see why it was necessary that we have a Mediator between God and us. The extension of the grace freely given us in Him has opened the way for us to come into Covenant relationship with God.
As the Covenants flow through the course of the Bible, each succeeding part builds upon the foundation of the previous, till we come to the one the writer of Hebrews calls a better Covenant, which was established upon better promises (Heb 8:6). For this one our Mediator assures that we qualify for its higher promises. Embracing all the former, He brings in the better and makes it firm for us. A mediator is one who acts between two parties and brings reconciliation between the two if there be a breach—and there is between us and God. Sin has separated us from Him and, thus, has disqualified us from receiving the full blessings of the Covenants. But, Jesus has become a mid-party to reconcile us and open the way for the completion of the relationship to which all the Covenants are bringing us.
The old Wesleyan hymn reaches here to express this for us. My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear. He owns me as His child; I can no longer fear. With confidence I now draw nigh and "Father, Abba Father," cry.
Many, claiming to be New Covenant people, hold the principles of the New Covenant as shadows and neglect the reality to which this Covenant brings us. This throws us back to be Old Covenant people only with New Covenant terminology. We are left with a vague hope that offers little of substance now. We are left as a religious company with symbols, rituals, representations and ideas about what might be ours one day in heaven, but with no understanding of what Paul knew when told of being joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:15), crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20), quickened together with Christ (Col 2:13), risen with Christ (Col 3:1), hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3), or seated with Christ Jesus in heavenly places (Eph 2:6).
Paul dared find his way into the realities of the New Covenant. He points it all out for us. He knew the Cross as a reality. He knew the Resurrection as a present happening in his life. He knew Christ as an abiding presence with him. He knew the Kingdom of God as having already come. He knew the heavenlies and dwelt there even in this present life. But, he also knew all of these New Covenant realities touch on eternity. They go with us into its infinity. It’s just that they do not belong to the future only. God’s purpose upon us was birthed in eternity but is being wrought out in the age of which we are a part. It is reaching for the fulness of times when He shall gather together in One all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him (Eph 1:10).
The hour is late in God’s Day and we’re still learning and seeing with an imperfect perception, but our spirits are reaching Him with Whom we’re seated in heavenly places (Eph 2:6). In Him we know a perfection that has the power of His resurrection stamped upon it. Even though we still see through a glass, darkly, we are drawing near when we shall see face to face and no longer know in part. Soon we shall know even as also we are known—I Cor 13:12.
As we press toward the mark (by setting our scope in clear focus) for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, we discover God’s power and faithfulness laid out in the Covenants. In Him we discover the New Covenant. As we embrace it, it draws us on to become the children of His Kingdom—seed for His planting.
In this, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience ("steadfast endurance") the race that is set before us, looking (with undivided attention) unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith…Heb 12:1,2.
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