The Bible is the Word of God. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament the Holy God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth is speaking the very first place to His chosen people of Israel, but also to us. His commandments, His promises, His revelations, our future and the future of the earth, His plan of salvation, past, present and the future, all are in the Bible.
‘As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of God is tried’ (Psalm 18:30). Over 3,800 times we read in the Bible: ‘thus speaks the LORD’, or ‘the LORD spoke to Moses’, or ‘the LORD God said’ or similar expressions. Now we have two possibilities only. These 3,800 statements are true or they are not true. Either the Bible tells us the truth about God, our life, the future and on all other fields of human activities or the Bible lies when it says: ‘THUS SPEAKS THE LORD!’ We are deeply convinced that the Bible is the Word of God. The almighty, holy God speaks to us in His Word. We have to pay close attention to what the eternal God wants to convey to us. In the Bible He speaks about our relationship with HIM. He speaks about the future of mankind and also of your personal future. All is in the Word. Past, present and future you can find in the Bible. About 25% of the Bible is prophecy. A lot of prophecy speaks about future. ‘Remember former things of old; for I am God and there is no one else. I am God and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done’ (Isaiah 46:9,10). The Lord God tells ahead what He is going to do, and He is doing what He has foretold. Let me give just one simple example out of the over 700 prophecies in the Bible.
David wrote over 1,000 years before Christ the following: ‘They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture’ (Psalm 22:18). This happened exactly when Jesus was crucified: ‘Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves: Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which said: They parted My raiment among them and for My vesture they did casts lots’ (John 19:23,24).
Many more prophecies have been fulfilled up till the smallest details. The LORD God tells in advance in his Word what He is going to do, and He will exactly do what He said. Between 70%–80% of those 700 prophecies have been fulfilled in the past. Like the one just mentioned. Many of the remaining 20%-30% are being fulfilled in our time. Fulfilment of biblical prophecy appeared to be 100% reliable. This fulfilment of prophecy emphasizes the ‘Thus speaks the LORD’ of the Bible. We will see more of these fulfilments (this also is applicable in our personal lives) when we discuss the Biblical covenants of the LORD God with his people of Israel. For many promises and prophecies are ‘packed’ or written in a covenant. Obviously the almighty God wants to deal and work us, human beings by means of a covenant. In the world of politics covenants and agreements are in many cases just a worthless sheet of paper. Often those covenants are broken before the ink of the signatures is dried. But what about the biblical covenants?
The Hebrew word for covenant is ‘B’rith’. We find this about 250 times in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament. Obviously the LORD God finds it important, so it is important for us. What is a covenant? Covenant means: testament, treaty, contract or agreement. A treaty or a contract is in many cases a written and signed agreement between two parties. In the contract the responsibilities of both parties are layed down. Also the benefits for both parties in case they follow the rules of the contract. A testament is a bit different. It is ‘contract’ of one party. A binding and signed commitment of one party that becomes valid at the moment the testator (the person who donates his possessions after his death) passes away. Such a covenant or testament becomes very important for the heirs. So it is important to see if you are in the ‘covenants of the LORD God’. Since the Bible consists of the co called Old Testament and the so called New Testament we have to study both testaments carefully. For the LORD speaks to us through both. Important questions we should ask ourselves are: What is in the Testament? Anything left for me? Any conditions in the testament? Can I find my name in the testament? For whom is the heritage? We also have to study the ‘small letters’ of the contract.
There are covenants in the Bible between two persons. David and Jonathan made a covenant (1 Samuel 18:3). David was faithful to this covenant and protected the lame son of Jonathan when his relatives were killed (2 Samuel 4). Abraham made covenant with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-30). The LORD God made a covenant with Noah and mankind (Genesis 6:18 and 9:9-17). The four most important covenants are the following:
We will examine the following in those four covenants:
The common view of Christianity is that the Old Testament is for Israel, for the Jewish people and the New Testament is for the Church, for the Christians. For over 18 centuries this has been taught by the Church. Missionaries have taken this idea to the young and living churches in Africa. Many of those churches easlily took the next step. They reasoned: Well the Old Covenant is about to disappear and the New Testament has come. So the church, the New Testament people, has taken over the role of Israel the Old Testament people. Theologians even wrapped these ideas into a kind of a theology: The Replacement Theology. This means that the Church has taken over the role and place of Israel as Gods chosen people and Gods servant in this world. They reason: Israel has rejected Jesus as the Messiah, so God Almighty has taken another people, the Christians, to take their place. Until they accept Him as Messiah and join the church. Only then they will be Gods people again. There are three reasons why this replacement theology is not correct, dangerous and unbiblical.
It is clear that the covenants with Abraham, Moses and David concern Israel in the very first place. But what about the New Covenant? Let us turn to the Bible. In Romans 9:4-5 Paul speaks about his Jewish brothers who do not believe in Yeshua, the Messiah. He says of them: They ‘are Israelites, to whom pertaines (belong) the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants,and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. Whose are the fathers, as of whom as concerning the the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen’. So not only the ‘law’ and the promises, but also the covenants still belong to Israel. This is why we read: ‘Behold, the days come says the LORD that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah’ (Hebrews 8:8). So, for whom is the New Covenant? For Israel and Judah. For the Jewish people. For whom are the covenants, mind the plural ‘covenants’ Old and New Covenant (Old and New Testament)? For the people of Israel. Immediately a lot of questions are coming up.
So all the covenants are still for Israel. Even the New Covenant. And the questions remain. W’ll see that, if we have the spiritual courage to grant Israel the place the Bible is giving to Gods chosen people, we all of a sudden see the riches of Christ Jesus in a much brighter light.W’ll discover how rich we are in Christ Jesus! If the church has the spiritual integrety and courage to put one step back in order to give Israel its legitimite biblical place, the LORD Himself will show us three giant spiritual steps forwards. We will have a fresh look into Gods plans, in His mighty works in our time, on the riches of His promises for us. All in and through Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God. But this will have to wait for the next chapters. We will discuss several covenants in detail.