In Scripture the covenant structures God’s relationship with man and exercises a dominant influence on the flow of redemptive history. It is, in fact, “one of the most important motifs in biblical theology.” Indeed, biblical theology shows that “redemption and eschatology are co-eval throughout biblical history.” We see this illustrated, for example, when the Lord Jesus Christ “specifically linked the Lord’s Supper with the eschatological perspective of the kingdom of God” (Lk 22:16, 18; cp. 1Co 11:26).
Not only so, but as Michael Horton observes: “a biblical-theological understanding of covenant ties things together in systematic theology whose relations are often strained: ecclesiology (the context of the cove-nant), theology proper (the covenant maker), anthropology (the covenant partner), christology (the covenant mediator) soteriology (the covenant blessings), eschatology (the covenant’s con-summation).” In light of all of this — and especially in that eschatology is “the covenant’s consummation” — the covenant concept exercises a tremendous bearing on eschatology.
We may define covenant as a legal bond that establishes a favorable relation between parties based on certain specified terms and promises blessings for faithful adherence to those terms, while threatening curses for unfaithful departure from them.
In a covenant the parties solemnly swear to maintain certain specified obligations outlined therein. Scripture notes regarding God’s covenant with Abraham: “Since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb 6:13). As legal obligations covenant parties maintain favo-rable relations only by faithfully keeping their stipulated terms. Of the covenant set before Israel under Moses, we read: “I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity. . . . I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse” (Dt 34:15, 19). Obedience to covenantal demands brings blessings; disobedience brings cursings (cf. Dt 28:1ff; Lev 26:3ff). Thus, a covenant forms a legal bond that establishes and protects specified rights.
In the next few posts, I will be focusing on the covenant, eventually showing that it underscores the postmillennial hope. See you tomorrow?