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Nov 19, 2023 | Joel Lingenfelter

Covenant - Mercy to Grace


Genesis 15 

Creation - God revealed!
     Tri-une, holy, almighty God created all things 

Mankind - Created in the image of God 
Each of us an image bearer of God, together male and female a portrait of God  

Sin enters the world - You had one job Adam… love your wife, tend the garden, don’t eat the fruit 

Cain and Abel - Selfishness and sin leads to broken relationships 
Cain's heart was not to give God his best 
Jealous of his brother, he broke the relationship permanently

"The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become" 

Noah - God's Justice to God's Promise

In Justice he wiped out all of humanity except for Noah and his family 
God is just, and his destruction of mankind and animals was just due to the sin on the earth in light of his holiness 

 But God… determined to offer mercy going forward. 

God extends mercy through a covenant.  
Gen 9:8-11 

What is a covenant? 
Mutual agreement between parties 
David & Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20 
Meant to be unbreakable – Galatians 3:15 

Gal. 3:15         Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 

Our first instinct is 50/50 like a marriage covenant. That’s probably the only covenant most of us can think of. Two equals agreeing to terms.  

Covenants with God are different

There is no equal to God 

“No, God remains absolutely sovereign, in his covenants as in everything else that he does. Man does not contract with him on anything in the remotest degree resembling equality. The covenant is an expression of God's will, not man's, and man must listen to its terms, trust God that they are holy and just and good, and order his life accordingly.”  - J. Gresham Machen 

A covenant with God is an expression of his will and we must order our lives accordingly 

God’s mercy is undeniably great, but we need more than mercy because we cannot live up to the holiness of God and will always find ourselves under judgment even if it does not result in a flood. 

Thankfully God knows this. The focus of scripture narrows from the story of all humanity, to Abraham and his descendants.  

Genesis 12 is the connection between creation and the incarnation 

Because of the corruption of sin mankind was not capable of relationship with God on their own. We needed God’s intervention.  

Genesis 12:1-3 

God chose Abraham. God blessed Abraham. And God began a plan of salvation for a world that was under the corruption of sin.   

While people love to debate this sort of thing, there are generally five explicit covenants in scripture between God and man. 

The covenant with Noah and all creation – God promises never to flood the earth again 

This covenant was unilateral and unconditional, a promise made to mankind and all of creation 

The covenant with Abraham – God promises to make him a great nation and make him a blessing to all the earth Gen 12, Gen 15:1, 5-6, 18, Gen 17:1-9 

God begins to reveal his plan of salvation through the line of Abraham, to show his desire for relationship and to bless those who love him 

The covenant with Moses & Israel –   

Ex. 19:4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 

Ex. 19:5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 

Ex. 19:6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” 

 What follows is 10 commandments, moral code, lifestyle code, community code, how to setup the tabernacle for worship etc. 

This is “the law” that is given to show how the people of God must live as set apart from the rest of the world. Whenever you see the law mentioned in scripture, this is what it is referring to. It is this law that makes clear to us our need for a savior 

Gal. 3:23    Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 

Gal. 3:24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 

Παιδαγωγὸς - Among the Greeks and Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood. The law is called this because it makes us aware of our sin, and our inability to meet the terms of the covenant.  

The covenant with David promises to make his name great and that the savior the world needs will come from his line. 2 Sam 7:8-16 

Each of the covenants points to Jesus, the new covenant:  

Noah (Mercy) – God will not give us what we deserve, he will give us Jesus 
Abraham (Blessing) – God will bless all nations through Jesus 
Moses (Law) – God will fulfill our end of this covenant through Jesus 
David (Jesus) – David’s descendant will rule an eternal kingdom 

The inability of sinful humans to keep their covenant with God led to the destruction of the temple, the end of the monarchy, the exile of the nation from the land God had given them. This is not unique to ancient Israel, this is a picture of how sin wrecks our lives. 

But God… 

Series Information

It is not likely you can start a book in the very middle of it and be able to understand what is going on.  In the same way, understanding Jesus without having the context of Genesis would be difficult as well.  In a society that has little to no biblical context, we need to be able to convey the beginning of the Bible in a manner that would explain why we need Jesus.  This series will reconnect us with our origins, so that we can understand and communicate how Jesus can change someones life.