God Remembered His Covenant – Part 1

Exodus 2:23-25

Said last week: God’s word the Bible – the focus: Jesus. Theme: redemption of the elect through faith in Jesus. What structures Old and New Testament around that focus and theme? Covenants. In our text: “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”

Not only structures God’s revelation to mankind, describes terms of God’s relationship with mankind. God relates to people whether saved or unsaved on basis of covenants He has established. Sometimes the word “covenant” is used in Bible, at times covenant is described without using the word. If you carry out transaction at store, get written record of it, doesn’t need “receipt” for you to know what it is. Same with covenants.

Concept will be repeated again in study through Exodus, good time now to provide definition and context. Will be bird’s-eye view, outline will give start for further study.

A. what is a covenant?

a sovereignly imposed relationship between God and man – “you will be my people and I will be your God” – e.g. Ex. 6:7; Jer. 30:22

divinely issued promises and conditions – “obey my voice and I will do”, also the negative “disobey and I will…” implied if not stated

not negotiated, parties were unequal; always initiated by God… on his terms, for duration he specified – God does all important talking

B. Covenant of Redemption

Eternal/everlasting covenant – Heb. 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

inter-trinitarian, particular roles for each person – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – means that in bringing about redemption, God in fullness is involved, working in perfect harmony to achieve his divine purpose

summarized in Eph. 1:3-14 – Father chose us to be holy, Son redeemed through his blood, Holy Spirit guarantees our inheritance / enlightens our understanding

this plan of redemption determined by triune God before start of creation – “before the foundation of the world” – all other divine covenants came later, after creation, although essential part of God’s eternal purpose

C. Covenant of Works

Edenic covenant – Gen. 1:26-30; 2:16-17 – recorded in two places but parts of one covenant… between God and man in innocence

blessings for obedience – actual productivity in return for labor, offspring to assist in managing God-given responsibilities, a created order that cooperated with man’s efforts

penalty for disobedience – two ways to disobey: unstated, failure to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion”

intentionally violating command to not eat of tree of knowledge of good and evil – Adam and Eve obeyed first, failed in second

immediate problem – mankind under immediate curse of death, no known hope for recovery, from man’s side no resources available to fix his problem and lift curse

mankind’s problem requires gracious solution

when Adam sinned covenant with God immediately broken, no way to repair that covenant relationship; Adam could not make new covenant

only hope for future: if God himself somehow graciously restores relationship on different terms… that could be satisfied by one of parties to covenant

man proved he couldn’t meet terms, God has 2 options: lower the standard (never!) or provide suitable substitute

D. Covenant of Grace

none of this a surprise to God, had already made provisions in Covenant of Redemption for just such a substsitute – God himself doing for his people what they are unable to do for themselves

remainder of covenants in Bible fit under umbrella of Covenant of Grace – the one covenant administered differently according to time and place… e.g. OT and NT periods

Adamic covenant – Gen. 3:14-19

builds on Edenic covenant – be fruitful, multiply, fill earth, subdue it requirements still in effect… but with complications

man’s efforts will be resisted, frustrated, made more difficult; competition between individuals, not cooperation

continual hostility between serpent and woman, between respective offspring, between followers of Satan and Seed of woman

addresses man’s inability to keep earlier covenant – needs Someone who can keep C of W and destroy serpent’s power

promises a Redeemer – “her Seed”, remember that word… comes up again in God’s covenant with Abraham

Noahic covenant – Gen. 9:1-17

re-stipulates Edenic covenant – 9:1 a repetition of 1:28, on purpose – God renewing promise of blessing on mankind

same expectations with regard to man’s purpose on earth as given to Adam and Eve, though radically altered environment

God’s view on value of human life made clear by actions he took toward Cain – here get the explanation, and insight into part of reason why people are worth redeeming

is not simply human as in another kind of animal life in view – is human as bearing the image of Almighty God

promises preservation of life – powerful statement of God’s commitment to himself

Gen. 8:21-22 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

says it out loud to Noah, Gen. 9:11 “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

adds sign of rainbow – as long as rainbow appears, work of redemption continues

serves as reminder to both God and man – God’s purpose is to preserve, not destroy; yet is promise of life, not eternal life

God graciously provides for all his creation, sustaining it day by day; some additional stipulations and requirements regarding plan of redemption

Abrahamic covenant – Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18

promises a people and a land – a great nation (12:2), as numerous as dust of earth (13:16), stars of heaven (15:5); land from river of Egypt to Euphrates (15:18)

enlarges promise of Redeemer, at same time more specific

(12:3) “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”, then following test with Isaac (22:18) “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”

all families of earth blessed… through descendant of Isaac, not Ishmael, descendant of Jacob, not Esau

“With the ceremony recorded in Gen 15:7-21 (smoking firepot & flaming torch between animal pieces) and the sign given in Gen 17:1-21 (circumcision), the Abrahamic Covenant is finalized. This covenant binds the LORD to fulfill the promises He has made to Abraham in Gen 12:1–15:5. Two further statements of God recorded in the Abraham narratives (Gen 18:17-19; 22:15-18) confirm that He is committed to fulfill His covenant obligations to Abraham.” Abrahamic Covenant – Keith Essex

this covenant passed down to next generation (Gen. 26:2-5), and next Gen. 28:11-15)

God himself to Isaac: “I will fulfill the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham” as repeated promises made earlier

at Jacob’s ladder – “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac”, then restates promises made to Abraham

from God’s perspective was one covenant made to Abraham and renewed with Isaac and then Jacob – is this particular covenant in context of the others God remembered in Exodus text

final expression in New Covenant – Jer. 31:31-34; Matt. 26:26-29; Heb. 8:6-13

all of Old Covenant conditions fulfilled by Christ, promises granted to Him – is by union with Christ we participate in New Covenant

Gal. 3:8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.””

then Gal. 3:16 “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”

was blood of Christ that satisfies penal terms of Old Covenant for his people, inaugurates New Covenant on their behalf

Was covenant made with Abraham and pointing to Christ that God had in mind when he heard his people groaning. Thank God for his Covenant of Grace:

“For by the Covenant of Creation, the Work of obedience was to maintain the Relation, and secure the Acceptance of the Person with God; but by the Covenant of Grace and Redemption, the Relation and previous Acceptance of the Person in Christ was the reason of the good Acceptance of all their sincere, tho imperfect Obedience, which did now spring from Faith.” [Nehemiah Coxe]

For Adam and Eve to maintain their covenant relationship with God at the beginning, to maintain acceptance with God they had to obey perfectly… forever. On this side of the Fall, is not obedience but faith that counts with God – faith in the One who obeyed perfectly and then paid the penalty for those who didn’t. Nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness will satisfy a holy and just God. Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Same is true of all since Abraham who have same kind of faith as Abraham.


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