Christ’s Fulfillment of the Covenants

Throughout the Old Testament there are several instances of God establishing a covenant.  He did so with Adam in the Garden, with the nation of Israel through Moses where the Law was delivered, with Noah after the great flood, with Abraham and his descendants, and lastly with King David.  These covenants are a part of salvation history that prepared the world for the coming of the Messiah.  Each one of these covenants was important and significant, and each one was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.  This covenant is known as the new covenant, and it is everlasting.  Regarding this the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant forever. The Son is his Father’s definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him” (CCC para 73).

The Adamic covenant is the first that the Lord had established.  As its name states, it was established with our first parents on behalf of all humanity.  We read in Genesis 1:26-31 about the creation of mankind, and how God rested on the seventh day.  The number seen in the Hebrew language is the number of covenant (Lecture Notes).  However, there is a second part of the covenant that applies after the fall.  God gives the first Gospel pronouncement which is known as the protoevangelium.  Genesis 3:15 states, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (NRSV).  Christ is the fulfillment as his death, burial, and resurrection redeemed us from the sin of our first parents.

 

After the great flood mentioned in Genesis, God made a covenant with Noah never to destroy the Earth with water again (Lecture Notes).  The rainbow became a sign of the covenant that God made with Noah.  This can be seen in Genesis 9:13 which states, “I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (NRSV).  Man will still struggle with sin, but Christ gives strength in the battle.  The Vatican II document Gaudium Et Spes states, “But the Lord Himself came to free and strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out the prince of this world” (Ostrowski 18).  It also brought into focus the issue of capital punishment in Genesis chapter nine.  It took on a new meaning when Christ was crucified.  The covenant is for all time and for all people, as is the sacrifice of Christ.

God continued in his promise and made a covenant with Abraham.  Genesis 12:2 states, “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” (NRSV).  God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars, and this included those by adoption (Lecture Notes).  This was fulfilled in Christ, because having faith in Christ we adopted sons of Abraham as Galatians 3:29 states.  In the Mosaic covenant, God made a covenant with the people of Israel.  Regarding this Dr. Koehne writes, “Through the leadership of Moses, God freed His people from slavery, then made a covenant with them on Mount Sinai” (Lecture Notes).  Christ fulfills the covenant by showing us how to live the law and calling to a higher standard of living as Christians.  This can only be done through his grace and mercy.

Lastly, God made a covenant with King David and said that through his lineage the Messiah would be born.  The promise can be seen in 2 Samuel 7:12-13 which states, “ When  your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (NRSV).

In St. Augustine’s great work the City of God he equates King David to an Old Testament prefigurement of Christ (Newadvent.com).  This covenant is fulfilled because he is proven to be in David’s lineage as is seen in Matthew Chapter one, and his kingdom will have no end.

Crucifixion

Works Cited

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2 ed.  New York:  Doubleday, 2003.  Print.

Ostrowski, Thaddeus ed., Primary Source Readings in Christian Morality.  Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 2008, Print.

Dods, Marcus. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120117.htm&gt;.

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

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Difference Between the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants

In the first two books of sacred scripture we find two promises given by God.  One was to Abraham which promised that a nation will rise from him, and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars.  The other is the covenant given to Moses on Mount Sinai.  In these two stories we have two things at work.  In the Abraham promise we have a story of faith, and in the covenant we have something that is conditional.  As Collins puts it “The blessings of the covenant are contingent on the observance of the law (Collins, page 121 ).”

In Exodus 12:2 we read “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make you name great, so that you will be a blessing.”  Abraham had two choices at this point.  He could tell God that He was crazy and move on with his life,  or He could accept this promise by faith.  The book of Hebrews tells us that he accepted by faith and it was credited to him as righteousness (Hebrews 11:8-16).  This was a promise that was never to be lost.

In contrast to that we have the covenant.  The lord told the Moses that He heard the cries of the people.  He would be their God, and they will be his people.  It was a mutual relationship of sorts.  The Lord would do what He said and the Israelites must do the same.  We see in the story of the Golden calf that this was not the case.  The people rebelled and created a Golden calf and worshipped it as there  god.  This was in direct violation of the first and second commandments.  And according to the book of the covenant the penalty was death and many were slaughtered by the Levites (Exodus 2:28).   Though they broke the covenant Moses sought to reconcile on behalf of the people.  The Lord forgave the Israelites and reinstated the covenant showing how merciful and just He truly is.

Both stories are about God and show that He is true to His promises.  However one was to a holy man that sought to do the will of god in everything he did.  The other was a young nation who was trying to figure out exactly who they were.

 

References

Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004.

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Abraham: A Model for Faith

The account of the promise of God to Abraham is an extremely important part of the Pentateuch.  It is this promise that sees a nation come from him.  Abraham, formerly Abram, was told to move from his home and he obeyed without question.  It is this faith that causes God to show favor on Abraham.  God tells him to look at the stars and his descendants will outnumber them.  It is here we find Abraham questioning because his wife, Sarah, is barren.

Sarah hands over her servant, Hagar, and Abraham has a son with her.  Sarah becomes Jealous and Hagar and Ishmael leave.  A bereaved Abraham is comforted by God who tells Abraham that they will be taken care of.  Ishmael will then “become the ancestor of a desert tribe (Collins, page 94).”  Thus one part of the promise is now complete.  God then works a miracle and tells Abraham that Sarah will bear a son.  Isaac is born and Abraham loved him dearly.

God then tested Abraham and told him to sacrifice Isaac.  Collins states “To appreciate the force of the story, the awfulness of the command must be taken fully seriously (Collins, page 95).  Isaac is spared and God’s providence is manifested.  Abraham would name the place where Isaac was supposed to be sacrificed “the Lord will provide.”  Abraham passed the test that God laid before him, and God told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand in the sea.  This would be manifested in Isaac whose son was Jacob.  Jacob had twelve sons whose families would become the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob himself would be renamed Israel.

The promise of God to Abraham results as a reward of faith and trust.  The things that Abraham went through were not easy, but through it all he knew that God would provide for him and lead the way.  As a result he was blessed with many descendants and many nations came from him.  Abraham’s story of faith and trust is also a model for us today.

Resources

Brown, Raymond E., Fitzmyer, Joseph A., and Murphy, Roland E. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990.

Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004.

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