Chapter 13: Man in the Covenant of Grace

Table of Contents

For the sake of clearness we distinguish between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace. The two are so closely related that they can be and sometimes are, considered as one. The former is the eternal foundation of the latter.

1. The Covenant of Redemption. This is also called “the counsel of peace,” a name derived from Zechariah 6:13. It is a covenant between the Father, representing the Trinity, and the Son as the representative of the elect.

a. The scriptural basis for it. It is clear that the plan of redemption was included in God’s eternal decree, Ephesians 1:4 ff.; 3:11; I1 Timothy 1:9. Christ speaks of promises made to Him before He came into the world, and repeatedly refers to a commission which He received from the Father, John 5:30, 43; 6:38-40; 17:4-12. He is evidently a covenant head, Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22. In Psalms 2:7-9 the parties of the covenant are mentioned and a promise is indicated, and in Psalms 40:7, 8 the Messiah expresses His readiness to do the Father’s will in becoming a sacrifice for sin.

b. The Son in the covenant of redemption. Christ is not only the Head but also the Surety of the covenant of redemption, Hebrews 7:22, A surety is one who takes upon himself the legal obligations of another. Christ took the place of the sinner, to bear the penalty of sin and to meet the demands of the law for His people. By so doing He became the last Adam, a life-giving spirit, 1 Corinthians 15:45. For Christ this covenant was a covenant of works, in which He met the requirements of the original covenant, but for us it is the eternal foundation of the covenant of grace. Its benefits are limited to the elect. They only obtain the redemption and inherit the glory which Christ merited for sinners.

c. Requirements and promises in the covenant of redemption.

(1) The Father required of the Son that He should assume human nature with its present infirmities, though without sin, Galatians 4:4, 5; Hebrews 2:10, 11, 14, 15; 4:15; that He should place Himself under the law to pay the penalty and to merit eternal life for the elect, Psalms 40:8; John 10:11; Galatians 1:4; 4:4, 5; and that He should apply His merits to His people by the renewing operation of the Holy Spirit, thus securing the consecration of their lives to God, John 10:28; 17:19-22; Hebrews 5:7-9.

(2) And the Father promised the Son that He would prepare for Him a body, Hebrews 10:5, would anoint Him with the Holy Spirit, Isaiah 42:1; 61:1; John 3:34, would support Him in His work, Isaiah 42:6, 7; Luke 22:43 would deliver Him from the power of death and place Him at His own right hand, Psalms 16:8-11; Philippians 2:9-11, would enable Him to [s]end the Spirit for the formation of the Church, John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13, 14, would draw and preserve the elect, John 6:37, 39, 40, 44, 45, and would grant Him a numerous seed, Psalms 22:27; 72:17

2. The Covenant of Grace. On the basis of the covenant of redemption God established the covenant of grace. Several particulars call for consideration here.

a. The contracting parties. God is the first party in the covenant. He establishes the covenant and determines the relation in which the second party will stand to Him. It is not so easy to determine who the second party is. The prevailing opinion in Reformed circles is that it is the elect sinner in Christ. We should bear in mind, however, that the covenant may be viewed in two different ways:

(1) As an end in itself, a covenant of mutual friendship or communion of life, which is realized in the course of history through the operation of the Holy Spirit. It represents a condition in which privileges are improved for spiritual ends, the promises of God are embraced by a living faith, and the promised blessings are fully realized. So conceived, it may be defined as that gracious agreement between God and the elect sinner in Christ, in which God gives Himself with all the blessings of salvation to the elect sinner, and the latter embraces God and all His gracious gifts by faith. Deuteronomy 7:9; 2 Chronicles 6:14; Psalms 25:10, 14; 103:17, 18.

(2) As a means to an end, a purely legal arrangement for the realization of a spiritual end. It is evident that the Bible sometimes speaks of the covenant as including some in whom the promises are never realized, such as Ishmael, Esau, the wicked sons of Eli, and the rebellious Israelites who died in their sins. The covenant may be regarded as a purely legal agreement, in which God guarantees the blessings of salvation to all who believe. If we think of the covenant in this broader sense, we can say that God established it with believers and their children, Genesis 17:7; Acts 2:39; Romans 9:1-4.

b. The promises and requirements of the covenant. Every covenant has two sides; it offers certain privileges and imposes certain obligations.

(1) The promises of the covenant. The main promise of the covenant, which includes all others, is contained in the oft-repeated words, “I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee,” Jeremiah 31:33; 32:38-40; Ezekiel 34:23-25, 30, 31; 36:25-28; Hebrews 8:10; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18. This promise includes all others, such as the promise of temporal blessings, of justification, of the Spirit of God, and of final glorification in a life that never ends. Job 19:25-27; Psalms 16:11; 73:24-26; Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:33, 34; Ezekiel 36:27; Daniel 12:2, 3; Galatians 4:4, 5, 6; Tit, 3:7; Hebrews 11:7; James 2:5.

(2) The requirements of the covenant. The covenant of grace is not a covenant of works; it requires no work with a view to merit. However, it does contain requirements and imposes obligations on man. By meeting the demands of the covenant man earns nothing, but merely puts himself in the way in which God will communicate to him the promised blessings. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that even the requirements are covered by the promises: God gives man all that He requires of him. The two things which He demands of those who stand in covenant relationship to Him are

(a) that they accept the covenant and the covenant promises by faith, and thus enter upon the life of the covenant; and

(b) that from the principle of the new life born within them, they consecrate themselves to God in new obedience.

c. The characteristics of the covenant. The covenant of grace is a gracious covenant, because it is a fruit and manifestation of the grace of God to sinners. It is grace from start to finish. It is also an eternal and inviolable covenant, to which God will always be true, though men may break it. Even in its widest extent it includes only a part of mankind, and is therefore particular. If its New Testament dispensation is called universal, this is done only in view of the fact that it is not limited to the Jews, as the Old Testament dispensation was. This covenant is also characterized by unity. It is essentially the same in all dispensations, though the form of its administration changes. The essential promise is the same, Genesis 17:7; Hebrews 8:10, the gospel is the same, Galatians 3:8, the requirement of faith is the same, Galatians 3:6, 7, and the Mediator is the same, Hebrews 13:8. The covenant is both conditional and unconditional. It is conditional because it is dependent on the merits of Christ and because the enjoyment of the life it offers depends on the exercise of faith. But it is unconditional in the sense that it does not depend on any merits of man. And, finally, it is testamentary as a free and sovereign disposition on the part of God. It is called a ‘testament’ in Hebrews 9:16, 17. This name stresses the facts,

(1) that it is a free arrangement of God;

(2) that its New Testament dispensation was ushered in by the death of Christ; and

(3) that in it God gives what He demands. The covenant of grace differs from the covenant of works in that it has a mediator. Christ is represented as the Mediator of the new covenant, 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24. He is Mediator, not only merely in the sense that He intervenes between God and man to sue for peace and to persuade to it, but in the sense that He is armed with full power to do all that is necessary for the actual establishment of peace. As our Surety, Hebrews 7:22, He assumes our guilt, pays the penalty of sin, fulfills the law, and thus restores peace.

d. Membership in the covenant. Adults can enter the covenant as a purely legal arrangement only by faith. And when they so enter it, they at the same time gain entrance into the covenant as a communion of life. They therefore enter upon the full covenant life at once. Children of believers, however, enter the covenant as a legal arrangement by birth, but this does not necessarily mean that they also at once enter it as a communion of life, nor even that they will ever enter it in that sense. Yet the promise of God gives a reasonable assurance that the covenant life will be realized in them. As long as they do not manifest the contrary we may proceed on the assumption that they possess the new life. When they grow up, they must accept their covenant responsibilities voluntarily by a true confession of faith. Failure to do this makes them covenant breakers. From the preceding it follows that unregenerate persons may temporarily be in the covenant as a purely legal relationship. (Romans 9:4) They are recognized as covenant children, are subject to its requirements, and share its ministrations. They receive the seal of baptism, enjoy the common blessings of the covenant, and may even partake of some special operations of the Holy Spirit. If they do not accept the corresponding responsibilities, they will be judged as breakers of the covenant.

e. The different dispensations of the covenant.

(1) The first revelation of the covenant is found in Genesis 3:15, which is usually called the protevangelium or the maternal promise. This does not yet refer to the formal establishment of the covenant.

(2) The covenant with Noah is of a very general nature as a covenant with all flesh. It conveys only natural blessings, and is therefore often called the covenant of nature or of common grace. It is close connected, however, with the covenant of grace. It is also a fruit of the grace of God and guarantees those natural and temporal blessings which are absolutely necessary for the realization of the covenant of grace.

(3) The covenant with Abraham marks its formal establishment. It is the beginning of the Old Testament particularistic administration of the covenant, which is now limited to Abraham and his descendants, Faith stands out prominently as its necessary requirement, and circumcision becomes its seal.

(4) The covenant at Sinai is essentially the same as that established with Abraham, but now takes in the whole nation of Israel, and thus became a national covenant. Though it strongly stresses the keeping of the law, it should not be regarded as a renewed covenant of works. The law increased the consciousness of sin, Romans 3:20, and became a tutor unto Christ, Galatians 3:24. Passover was added as a second sacrament.

(5) The new covenant, as revealed in the New Testament, Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8, 13, is essentially the same as that of the Old Testament, Romans 4; Galatians 3. It now breaks through the barriers of particularism and becomes universal in the sense that its blessings are extended to people of all nations. Its blessings become fuller and more spiritual, and baptism and the Lord’s Supper are substituted for the Old Testament sacraments.


To Memorize:

Passages bearing on:

a. The parties of the covenant:

  • And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
  • “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7)
  • ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; (6) and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
  • “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (32) not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. (33) “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
  • “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:39)

b. Its promises and requirements:

  • ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
  • “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:33) under a. above, for the essential promise.
  • Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
  • ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; (Exodus 19:5)
  • The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. (Psalm 25:14)
  • But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, (18) To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them. (Psalm 103:17-18)
  • Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. … (9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:7, 9)

c. Characteristics of the covenant:

  • But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19)
  • “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
  • The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5)
  • Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. … (9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:7, 9)
  • and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, (Romans 4:11)
  • For a covenant is valid [only] when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. (18) Therefore even the first [covenant] was not inaugurated without blood. (Hebrews 9:17-18)

d. The Mediator of the covenant:

  • For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5)
  • so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7:22)
  • But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6)


For Further Study:

a. Can you name some special covenants mentioned in the Bible?

  • “So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” (Genesis 31:44)
  • These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb. (Deuteronomy 29:1)
  • Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. (1 Samuel 18:3)

b. Can you name instances of covenant breaking?

  • Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what [use] then is the birthright to me?” (33) And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. (34) Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:32-34)
  • that [there be] no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a [single] meal. (17) For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17)
  • (1) Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (2) Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring [them] to me.” (3) Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought [them] to Aaron. (4) He took [this] from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” (5) Now when Aaron saw [this,] he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow [shall be] a feast to the LORD.” (6) So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. (7) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted [themselves.] (8) “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!'” (9) The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. (10) “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.” (11) Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? (12) “Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil [intent] He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about [doing] harm to Your people. (13) “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit [it] forever.'” (14) So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exodus 32:1-14 NASB95)
  • (1) Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. (2) All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! (3) “Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (4) So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” (5) Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. (6) Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; (7) and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. (8) “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us a land which flows with milk and honey. (9) “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (10) But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. (11) The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? (12) “I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.” (13) But Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their midst, (14) and they will tell [it] to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O LORD, are in the midst of this people, for You, O LORD, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. (15) “Now if You slay this people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will say, (16) ‘Because the LORD could not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ (17) “But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, (18) ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear [the guilty,] visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth [generations.]’ (19) “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” (20) So the LORD said, “I have pardoned [them] according to your word; (21) but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. (22) “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, (23) shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. (24) “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it. (25) “Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys; turn tomorrow and set out to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.” (26) The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, (27) “How long [shall I bear] with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. (28) “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; (29) your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. (30) ‘Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. (31) ‘Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. (32) ‘But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. (33) ‘Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer [for] your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. (34) ‘According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, [even] forty years, and you will know My opposition. (35) ‘I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.'” (36) As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land, (37) even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the LORD. (38) But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land. (39) When Moses spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people mourned greatly. (40) In the morning, however, they rose up early and went up to the ridge of the hill country, saying, “Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised.” (41) But Moses said, “Why then are you transgressing the commandment of the LORD, when it will not succeed? (42) “Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the LORD is not among you. (43) “For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following the LORD. And the LORD will not be with you.” (44) But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp. (45) Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah. (Numbers 14:1-45)
  • (1) Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took [action,] (2) and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown. (3) They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” (4) When Moses heard [this,] he fell on his face; (5) and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring [him] near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself. (6) “Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, (7) and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the LORD tomorrow; and the man whom the LORD chooses [shall be] the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!” (8) Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi, (9) is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the [rest of] the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; (10) and that He has brought you near, [Korah,] and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also? (11) “Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?” (12) Then Moses sent a summons to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; but they said, “We will not come up. (13) “Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us? (14) “Indeed, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!” (15) Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.” (16) Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company be present before the LORD tomorrow, both you and they along with Aaron. (17) “Each of you take his firepan and put incense on it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty firepans; also you and Aaron [shall] each [bring] his firepan.” (18) So they each took his [own] censer and put fire on it, and laid incense on it; and they stood at the doorway of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. (19) Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. (20) Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, (21) “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” (22) But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?” (23) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (24) “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'” (25) Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him, (26) and he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.” (27) So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out [and] stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. (28) Moses said, “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. (29) “If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, [then] the LORD has not sent me. (30) “But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.” (31) As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; (32) and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with [their] possessions. (33) So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (34) All Israel who [were] around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” (35) Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense. (36) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (37) “Say to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, that he shall take up the censers out of the midst of the blaze, for they are holy; and you scatter the burning coals abroad. (38) “As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered sheets for a plating of the altar, since they did present them before the LORD and they are holy; and they shall be for a sign to the sons of Israel.” (39) So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers which the men who were burned had offered, and they hammered them out as a plating for the altar, (40) as a reminder to the sons of Israel that no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the LORD; so that he will not become like Korah and his company just as the LORD had spoken to him through Moses. (41) But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.” (42) It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. (43) Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, (44) and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (45) “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” Then they fell on their faces. (46) Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense [on it;] then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” (47) Then Aaron took [it] as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put [on] the incense and made atonement for the people. (48) He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked. (49) But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. (50) Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked. (Numbers 16:1-50)
  • Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, (Judges 2:11)
  • Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD (1 Samuel 2:12)
  • The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5)
  • For thus says the Lord GOD, “I will also do with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath by breaking the covenant. (Ezekiel 16:59)
  • But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me. (Hosea 6:7)
  • Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle [the enemy comes] against the house of the LORD, Because they have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law. (Hosea 8:1)
  • They speak mere words, With worthless oaths they make covenants; And judgment sprouts like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field. (Hosea 10:4)

c. Did the giving of the law change the covenant essentially?

  • For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; (15) for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. (16) For this reason [it is] by faith, in order that [it may be] in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (17) (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, [even] God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (Romans 4:13-17)
  • (What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. (18) For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. (19) Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. (20) Now a mediator is not for one [party only;] whereas God is [only] one. (21) Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. (22) But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. (24) Therefore the Law has become our tutor [to lead us] to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:17-24)


Questions for Review:

1. What is the covenant of redemption? By what other name is it known, and how is it related to the covenant of grace?
2. What scriptural evidence is there for it?
3. What is the official position of Christ in this covenants?
4. Was it for Christ a covenant of grace or a covenant of works.?
5. Whom does Christ represent in this covenant?
6. What did the Father require of Christ, and what did He promise Him?
7. What distinction do we apply to the covenant of grace?
8. How does this affect the question, who is the second party in the covenant?
9. What is the all-embracing promise of the covenant?
10. What does God require of those who are in the covenant?
11. What are the characteristics of the covenant?
12. In what sense is the covenant unbreakable, and in what sense breakable?
13. How can you prove the unity of the covenants?
14. In what sense is it conditional, and in what sense unconditional?
15. Why can it be called a testament?
16. Where do we find the first revelation of the covenant?
17. What was the nature of the covenant with Noah?
18. How did the covenant with Abraham and the Sinaitic covenant differ?
19. What characterized the New Testament dispensation of the covenants?
20. What is the position of Christ in the covenant of grace?
21. How can adults become covenant members?
22. How do children of believers enter the covenant?
23. What is expected of them?
24. Can unregenerate persons be members of the covenants?

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