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COVENANT IN SCRIPTURE

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  July 26, 2012 — 2 Comments

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?

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

2 responses to COVENANT IN SCRIPTURE

  1. Discussion of ‘The Covenant’ is of particular importance today. Especially in light of the teachings of those such as LaHaye. It is also important to know that America has broken the Covenant we have had with God just as Israel did.

  2. Noa Napoleon July 27, 2012 at 6:30

    In discussing the rights of covenant members, Iʻm always struck at how Israel was instructed in the area of international law. If America had a covenant with God, what if anything did God stipulate regarding foreign diplomacy? Does God demand righteousness in this area? If so how would a country like Hawaii, who had specific treaties with the US, get legal redress for breach of trust? The US military, if you recall, aided the forceful overthrew the Hawaiian government on fictitious grounds. To this day Congress claims to govern the Islands by plenary power, which means Congress holds unilateral power over Native Hawaiians. This top down scheme makes wards of a foreign people, in complete defiance of its Constitutional mandate. Manifest destiny surely must be governed by Gods law? If not are we not committing America to Imperialistic future?

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