When we think of the word “chronology”, we think of a linear timeline, meaning something happening in a particular order. And that is fine, but for the purposes of this message we will discuss more than just the order of the covenants, we will also look at the priority of order within the covenants.
If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
Let’s start with a basic introduction to what a covenant is, sort of a Covenant 101 Class:
A covenant is, essentially, a contract. Like contracts, there has to be a promise by one party to deliver some action to another party. There are two ways to make a contract, which are orally and written, and they are either unilateral or bilateral. The unilateral contract is a promise by one person with no requirements on the other party in order to receive the promised action, and a bilateral contract is two-way: A promises B to do something so long as B performs some service.
With regard to the covenants God made, the unilateral covenant is called unconditional, and the bilateral covenant is called conditional.
There are 5 covenants in the Bible:
- The Noahic Covenant (Genesis 8:21-22);
- The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12-17);
- The Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19-24);
- the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7); and
- The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31).
Here is one of the most important things you must understand about the covenants which God has made with humanity: they are not exclusionary, they are complementary.
That means that the newer covenant does not replace or supersede the previous covenant, but adds to it, confirming and increasing the scope to include the newer elements. For example, when God made his covenant with Abraham, he didn’t stop placing the rainbow in the sky. When he made the covenant with the Jewish people through Moses, he didn’t say circumcision wasn’t necessary anymore.
And when he promised all humanity he would make a New Covenant, it is based entirely on the prior covenant with King David to make one of his descendants the Messiah.
There are only two of the five covenants God made with us that are unconditional: the Noahic and the New. These are promises by God that do not require us to do anything in order to receive them. The other covenants are conditional. Circumcision was conditional for the Abrahamic, circumcision plus obedience to the instructions God gave Moses, and the line of kings under David must also remain obedient to the Torah for David’s descendants to remain on the throne.
The New Covenant, according to Christian theology, was made by Jesus at the Last Supper, but that is not true. God already told us what he would do way back in Jeremiah. And this New Covenant was unconditional because God said we can’t accomplish it, ourselves.
Now, one might say the New Covenant is conditional because we have to accept Yeshua as our Messiah in order to be saved, but technically, that is not really necessary. Although I have run into some who claim they are sinless and we all can be, despite what the Tanakh tells us, most people believe humans cannot live a sinless life. But, if we did, in other words, if we were able to obey every commandment in the Torah every moment of our life, then we would be righteous in God’s eyes and there would be no need for us to be saved by Messiah’s sacrifice.
I believe living a sinless existence is not possible for humans, which is why we need the Messiah, and since God did send the Messiah, it seems he agrees with me.
The last lesson for today is about the priority of order within the covenants; in other words, who does what, first.
Too many churches, especially the mega-churches with thousands of people, always prioritize their “spiel” about God with all the things God will do for you. And they finish with all you have to do is be a “good” person, loving each other and not doing anything bad. They teach that when you accept Jesus then God will give you blessings. They teach your only requirement is to accept Jesus as your Savior and you get blessings.
That’s not how it works, and besides that, it is also in the wrong order.
It isn’t about what God will do for us, but what we are to do for God. It’s true that God wants to bless us, but the blessings are not given until they are earned. The priority within these covenants is that we are to obey God’s instructions, i.e., do as he says we should, and then in return, he will be our God and we will receive the blessings he promises.
Jews have always known the proper priority because, well, we’re the ones through whom God set up this system. We understand that it is about what we are to do for God and not about what he will do for us. We serve God, not the other way around, and that means the priority, the proper “chronology” of actions within each conditional covenant, is that we must FIRST do our part, which is to follow the instructions God gave us, then he will do his part and deliver blessings to us.
One of the most remarkable things about God is that even though we have broken the conditional covenants over and over, and over again, God has not exercised his moral and legal right to renege on his part. Even better, God gave us an escape clause: not to escape the covenant, but to escape the consequences of breaking the covenant, and that is the sacrificial system. When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed that made forgiveness impossible, but through the Davidic covenant, which is accomplished through Yeshua, we can find redemption, which is why without Yeshua we have no hope of salvation.
What I am hoping you get out of today’s message is this: the covenants God made do not remove or do away with any of his previous covenants, they are all found in the Tanakh, and the most important lesson today is that we are the ones who do for God, not the other way around. When we do as God wants, we will receive his blessings, but he has no obligation to do anything for anyone of us until we show him we have met the conditions of his covenant.
God is the most wonderful partner anyone can have in any covenant because he so desires to bless us, that even though we continuously break the covenant, he allows us to come back into that covenant.
Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share out these messages, buy my books, wash your hands and I always welcome your comments.
Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!