Theme: Covenant (Part 3)
(Key verses: Gen 9:9-11; Gen 17:5-8)
We are continuing with the theme of covenants as they appear in the Scriptures which all help us to understand a few important spiritual aspects involved in this theme. All these aspects are included in the one “everlasting covenant” of God to make all in Adam spiritually perfect in Christ. (Rom 1:20; Eph 2:11-12; Heb 8:6-7; Heb 13:20-21). Some of the aspects we briefly covered included the cutting of flesh (typified by the killing of animals during covenant making) and the cataclysmic changes or metamorphosis covenants bring about (2Co 3:18; Rom 12:2). The first time the word “covenant” appears in Scripture is in relation to the flood in Noah’s days where things on the earth were changed to usher in a brand new world for the eight people who were inside the ark. That flood was used by God as a type to show us how the spiritual or everlasting covenant will be applicable through the death of the first man Adam in all of us (Rom 6:3-11; Heb 13:20; Gal 2:20).
1Pe 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1Pe 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
1Pe 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
The “filth of the flesh” pertains to all physical and carnal things, but even more so to our own carnal conscience. God’s creation of flesh, with its natural mind, was never His final product with the generation of the first Adam. Flesh and blood is but a first step in the process of eventually making man after the exact spiritual image of God:
Gen 1:27 (CLV) And creating [The Hebrew verb is in the imperfect mood which indicates an action, process or condition which is incomplete] is the Elohim humanity in His image. In the image of the Elohim He creates it. Male and female He creates them.
God created the carnal mind as a false and deceitful witness as it walks in the valley of the shadow of death of spiritual wickedness and darkness (Isa 45:7; Pro 6:19; Psa 23:4; Rom 8:6-8; Eph 6:12):
Mat 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
Mat 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Mat 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Jer 17:9 The [natural] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Through that covenant with Noah and all other subsequent physical covenants mentioned in the Scriptures, God established the spiritual patterns of how all in Adam will go through the judgement process to save us from the “filth of flesh” to be able to enter into the spiritual mind and life of God through Christ Jesus (Heb 9:27; Rom 6:23; Isa 26:9). The first time the Hebrew word “berı̂yth” was used for covenant in the Scriptures it pertained to Noah (Gen 6:17-22; Gen 8:20-22; Gen 9:9-11):
Gen 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
Gen 6:18 But with thee [Noah] will I establish my covenant [Hebrew: berı̂yth]; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
The destruction of all flesh is the only way all spiritual blessings are brought to us (Eph 1:3; Rev 5:12-14). This brings to the fore another interesting aspect of covenants. We read about the promise of blessing in the covenants God made with Noah and Abraham, amongst others:
Gen 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful [Hebrew: “pârâh”=growth], and multiply [Hebrew: “râbâh”=increase], and replenish [Hebrew: “mâlê”/“mâlâ”=full/wholly] the earth.
Gen 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Gen 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful [Hebrew: pârâh], and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Gen 17:7 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 17:8 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.
God’s covenant promises include blessings of fruitfulness and rulership over all the earth. After we are given to accept that all things in the flesh will be taken from us, we learn that all “these things” will be replaced by “better things” which our natural man cannot grasp at this time (Mat 6:31-34; 2Co 2:14; Heb 8:6; Heb 10:34; Heb 11:16; Heb 11:40; Heb 12:24). We see these “better things” also in type in the life of Job after he was stripped of all physical possessions and his ten children in a short but intensive devastating series of events (Job 1-2). Added to this were his dealings with his own self-righteous thoughts and the condemnations of his so-called comforters. The Lord made Job fruitful again and blessed “the latter end of Job more than his beginning” as a type of what our spiritual inheritance in Christ is, even in down payment in this life (Ecc 7:1; Mat 5:5; Mat 19:29; Mat 25:34; Act 20:32; Rev 21:7):
Job 42:12 So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
Job 42:13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.
Job 42:14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.
Job 42:15 And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
Job 42:16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations.
Every physical thing we lose in judgment is for our good because “the breath” of the old life is taken away (Gen 2:7; Gen 7:22; Job 12:10). Only when our old life is blotted out will the “times of refreshing” come:
Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing [Greek: “anapsuxis”=a recovery of breath] shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Act 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Act 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
The Greek word “anapsuxiz” means the recovery of breath or to be revived from death. What the world proclaims as “revival” is nothing more than the regaining and accumulation of physical things and the boasting with earthly possessions. The real spiritual revival is only found in the repentance from the dead works of flesh and a spiritual conversion to have the mind of Christ (Heb 6:1-2; 1Cor 15:31; 1Cor 2:16; Heb 12:2). The “times of restitution of all things” has nothing to do with getting back physical kingdoms and things of this world, but everything to do with that which is found in the spiritual kingdom of God:
Mat 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
Mat 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Mat 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
All these things of the fleshly kingdom are what the heathen in us naturally wants to have and cleave to. That is why the so-called “prosperity gospel” has so many followers. The only true gospel brings real prosperity as we learn through the loss of “these things” that tomorrow is quite different to what we naturally expected it to be:
Mat 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Mat 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Mat 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Today is indeed that day or age of evil, but “the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” which also include the restitution of the spiritual things which God established and declared from the beginning, long before we could see them:
Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Jas 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
The Lord’s will and counsel is to give spirit life to all in Adam and He will be 100% successful despite those who proclaim that He will not be able to do that because of a so-called “free” will of puny man that will prevent Him. Absurd! Man indeed has a will which is ordained by God to initially be in opposition to Him and to disobey His ways:
Isa 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
This brings us to yet another aspect which is found in covenants, namely commandments or laws which are connected to that covenant. In any covenant there are conditions that need to be honoured by all parties involved. In the Scripture God is the One who initiates all covenants, and He sets up laws or commandments by which those with whom He enters into an agreement must abide by. But the purpose for those covenants in the Old Testament was not to give spiritual perfection to anyone. There was another reason:
Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
No physical covenant can reveal God in spirit and in that sense it cannot make anybody righteous. But through those physical covenants and their commandments come the knowledge of what we are in the first Adam. Naturally we cannot see our own ignorance and we need physical laws to reveal our own carnality and physical limitations:
Rom 5:20a Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound.
Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
We indeed learn about the extent and depths of the sinfulness of flesh and blood by the very physical laws God gave to mankind in whatever forms (Rom 2:14-15). The strange thing about flesh is that when we eventually discover our shortcomings through failures in those commandments from God, we tend to add more laws to the ones we could not keep in the false hope that we will improve or keep our flesh and subordinates under control (Mat 23:1-4). In that sense we also add to God’s word and in doing that we actually add more plagues:
Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.
Naturally we really want to have confidence in the flesh as we continually fall back in thinking that perfection can be attained in the flesh (Php 3:4-6). We are always tempted to compare according to fleshly standards and worldly measures (2Co 10:12; 2Co 5:16). The physical commandments are good when we use it “lawfully”, even as it shows us how carnal and inadequate were are in comparison to what God is (1Ti 1:8-10). Yes, we learn through opposites and we understand the invisible things of God via the natural, but the flesh is never spirit – they are actually opposites (Rom 1:20; Joh 3:6; Gal 5:17). That is why we first experience evil and darkness because to become like God in spirit was never and will never be an instantaneous event – it involves a painful process of learning spiritual obedience (Gen 2:7; Luk 13:32; Mat 16:21; Luk 24:46; Heb 2:9-11). Our disobedience to keep even the physical covenants emphasizes the weakness and corruption of flesh as it was made in the hand of the Potter (Jer 18:4: Rom 8:20):
Deu 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
God is spirit and He is what holiness and perfect love is all about. Through Jesus Christ God expressed His spiritual law which is the way He reveals His holiness and nature of love, which is also called “the law of Christ”, “the law of the spirit” or “the royal law” in the Scriptures (Gal 6:2; Joh 13:34; 1Co 13; Jas 2:8; 1Jn 5:2-3):
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The law of the spirit in Christ Jesus is that same spiritual covenant that was there before the foundation of the world and before any physical law or covenant was given, which included the law of Moses which “was added because of transgressions” (Joh 17:24; 1Pe 1:20):
Gal 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after [the covenant God made with Abraham], cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Gal 3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Gal 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
The “new” covenant is therefore only new because it is only revealed when Christ comes “afterward” in us – that is when we can see the man of sin, the first man Adam and when we can accept his fate (Heb 8:8; Heb 12:24; Joh 1:12-13; Mat 11:27; Mat 5-7; Joh 5:36; Joh 14:6):
1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
1Co 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
It is only through the spiritual law (Christ in us) that we will be able to keep and obey any law, whether in flesh or in spirit (Rom 12:2):
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
The law of the spirit of Christ in us produces the fruit whereby we can indeed do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Php 4:13):
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Col 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
In our next study on the foundational theme of covenants, we will be discussing more interesting aspects which will also help us to appreciate the spiritual covenant of Jesus Christ, God willing.