It’s impossible to understand the kingdom of God or Jesus without having a grasp of the history-changing promises God made with Abraham and David. To Abraham God covenanted the land and to David, a descendant to rule. Ultimately these two covenants find their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth–the Messiah.
defining a covenant
- בְּרִית: agreement, alliance, covenant, pact
- The brit milah (Hebrew: בְּרִית מִילָה, pronounced [bʁit miˈla]; Ashkenazi pronunciation: [bʁis ˈmilə], “covenant of circumcision”; Yiddish pronunciation: bris [bʀɪs]) is a Jewish religious male circumcision ceremony performed by a mohel (“circumciser”) on the eighth day of a male infant’s life. (Wikipedia)
- ἡ διαθήκη: a will, covenant, contract
- Καινή Διαθήκη: new testament
- where do we have covenants in our society?
- marriage, homeowner associations, airports
Abraham (Land Promise)
Gen 12.1-4: the pre-covenant
- 1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
- move to this land and I will
- bless you
- make your name great
- bless those who bless you and curse those who dishonor you
- all families of earth will be blessed in you
- 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
- Abram obeyed: this is the key to everything
- v7 is the first land promise
Gen 17.1-12, 23-27: the blood covenant
- 1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
- Abram gets renamed Abraham (a father of a multitude of nations)
- ironic that the first Hebrew is “the father of many peoples”
- 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
- v7 everlasting covenant!
- to be God
- to give land of Canaan
- God seals the covenant through blood of circumcision, which also serves as a sign of the covenant
- 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” 9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,
- 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
- v23 now THAT’s faith!
Gen 22.1-3, 11-12, 16-18: the ultimate test of covenant faithfulness
- 1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
- The Akedah: binding
- the most tempting idol is always your child or your lover or your work
- do you love me for what I give you
- 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
- 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
- God’s so impressed w/ Abraham’s obedience to offer Isaac that he swears by himself!
- in this moment Abraham
- redeems the human race by showing God we are capable of genuine loyalty
- establishes a relationship that carries on for millennia
- going forward God introduces himself by Abraham’s name!
- to Moses at the burning bush, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3.6)
- 3,000 years later, 3.5 billion people (half of the population) recognize Abraham as the father of their faith! Now that’s a legacy!
How the Abrahamic Covenant affects the future
- reason for Exodus (Ex 2.24, 6.3-8)
- Exodus 2.24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
- Exodus 6.3-8 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’
- reason to spare them after the golden calf (Ex 32.10-14)
- Exodus 32.10-14 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” 11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'” 14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
- memoralized in the psalms (Ps 105.6-12, 36-45)
- Psalm 105.6-12 6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! 7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. 8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” 12 When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it,
- Psalm 105.36-45 36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their strength. 37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among his tribes who stumbled. 38 Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it. 39 He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night. 40 They asked, and he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance. 41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river. 42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. 43 So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. 44 And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, 45 that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the LORD!
- chesed (on quiz: define chesed חֶסֶד: covenant loyal love)
- “commitment: EVV translate hesed by expressions such as ‘steadfast love’ and ‘constant love.’ It is sometimes described as covenant love, though in the OT it rarely appears in the company of the word ‘covenant.’ It is used in two connections: when someone makes an act of commitment for which there is no reason in terms of prior relationship, and when someone keeps their commitment when they might be expected to abandon it (e.g., because the other person has done so). It is the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek agape. “*
- Christ is the doorway for gentiles into Abrahamic covenant (Gal 3.27-29)
- Galatians 3.27-29 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
- Pauline theology hinges on understanding Abraham’s covenant was by faith not by works of the law (Rom 4.13)
- Romans 4.13 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
David (King Promise)
2 Sam 7.1-5, 11-16: God’s promise to David
- 2 Samuel 7.1-5 Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3 And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” 4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in?
- look at David’s concern for God
- he’s not just selfishly content with his wealth and military prowess
- he’s concerned about God’s honor
- 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'”
- God will build David a house (= dynasty)
- promises for David’s descendant
- I will establish his kingdom
- he will build a house for my name
- I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever
- I will be a father to him
- he will be a son to me
- I will discipline him when he commits iniquity
- but I will not remove my chesed from him like Saul
- does this refer to Solomon?
- yes, but he failed and his throne did not last forever
- Solomon did build the temple,
- he also married 700 wives and 300 concubines
- he married foreign women and built shrines to their gods
- he even introduced child sacrifice to the god Moloch
- many of David’s sons rejected God as their father;
- most were bad
- God disciplined his kings through the prophets and foreign armies
- Babylon destroyed the house of David
- 2 Kings 25.6-7 6 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. 7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.
- Zedekiah was the last Davidic king to rule on the throne
- eventually dissolved the kingdom
- his temple was destroyed (586) along with the kingdom
- now living in a foreign land, the people cry out
- where is your promise?
- where is your chesed?
- Psalm 89.1-52 I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” 3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'” Selah5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? 8 O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? 9 You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them. 10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. 12 The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name. 13 You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. 15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, 16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. 17 For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: “I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. 20 I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, 21 so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. 22 The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. 23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. 24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. 25 I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. 26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ 27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. 29 I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, 31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. 34 I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. 35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. 37 Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. 39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. 41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah
46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 48 What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah
49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, 51 with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. 52 Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.
- this psalmist does not think Solomon fulfilled God’s promise to David
- even when they returned from exile under Joshua and Zerubbabel, David’s son did not ascend to the throne
- they served the Persian empire for centuries
- then the Greeks
- then they finally won their independence and had kings (but they were Levites)
- disillusionment by the time of Christ
- they rebuilt the temple in 516
- renovated by Herod the Great
- not clear if God had ever returned to the temple
- Essenes left
- Jesus is not impressed by it and prophesies its destruction
- David’s sons had ruled for about 4 centuries
- it had been 6 centuries by the time of Christ
- was all hope lost?
- had God’s covenant with David shattered on the floor like a broken clay pot?
- at long last an angel came to a peasant girl, breaking the silence
- Luke 1.26-33
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
- Gabriel announced that God’s promise to David applied to Jesus
- Luke 1.26-33
Do you know how the NT begins?
- Matthew 1.1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
- at long last David’s promise will find fulfillment in Jesus, a son of David who will rule on the throne forever
How does the NT end?
- Revelation 22.16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
 John Goldingay, Psalms, vol. 3: Psalms 90-150, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), p. 753.
- Other Restitutio podcasts and posts on the kingdom of God
- visit KingdomUprising.com for more resources on the kingdom
- check out Anthony Buzzard’s The Coming Kingdom of the Messiah and Greg Deuble’s They Never Told Me This in Church
- Intro music: “District Four” by Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License