Grace Covenant Church Pottstown
  • Today’s message is an interactive message. Not meaning that you can yell or throw things at me but that you will get much more out of the message today if you have a bible and follow along. Remember that scripture is God’s own authoritative interpretation of his redemptive acts through the agency of human authors.
    Last time I spoke I covered some basic ideas about prophecy. Some simple things to keep in mind that might help you in your study. Especially the Old Testament. I also mentioned that covenants Are a large part of gods program. Why should I care about covenants? Because if you have a good understanding of the covenants of the bible you will have a much clearer grasp of what god has done and why, what he is doing and why, and what he yet will do and why.
    But first something else, God did not create us and this universe simply to have a sandbox to play in. there was a purpose and plan for it all.
    let’s now enter our plane and fly up to about 30000 feet, look out the window down at god’s creation and ask, what is the big broad overview of god’s plan for his creation of course including us.
    We need to understand how it started - Gen. 1:26-28 observe some things easy to overlook
    Slide 1
    On day 6, everything said is important
    1. note made in gods image,
    2. twice told man made to rule over earth and everything in it.
    Rule – have dominion, reign, rule, apparently gods’ intention was for man to rule with him under his authority over the administration of the earth god created, little kings under the big king
    3. fill the earth – multiplication - never to be confined just to the garden, always meant to be over the entire earth.
    4. Subdue the earth - Ruling also included subduing the earth – conquer, subjugate, keep under subjection
    Word about subduing the earth, today gets a bad rap
    Understand that man subjugating the world under the guidance of God in a sinless environment would never result in something destructive or harmful, but only positive, the purpose of subjugation is not destruction
    Psalm 8
    Sounds like what we just read in genesis, A creation psalm explaining gods intent during creation for man. A picture of what things were like when God created
    1. verse 5, little lower than angels? Man made in the image of God but a little lower than angels yet crowned with glory and honor
    2. Verse 6 - Ruler over everything god has made, reinforces Gen. and gods plan for man’s creation. Note - Everything under his feet, reference to creation
    Remember, man made in the image of God, a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, and having everything under his feet at creation
    But man fell from this state and entered a new condition of both sin and death upon us and a curse upon creation. Therefore, all things have taken a darker turn. Rel. with God severed. Rel. with one another filled with conflict. the idea of subduing the earth, although still our task has taken a darker turn. Now our every effort to subdue the earth usually results in having to destroy something to attain something because the curse makes the world uncooperative with our efforts. We are totally out of harmony with God, others, and the earth
    Understanding the beginning is vital to understanding gods program even at 30,000 feet because it explains gods’ intention
    Heb. 2:5-11
    1. Angels not created to rule creation
    2. Note the quotation of psalm 8 – our condition at creation
    Everything was under our feet, all creation subject to us,
    3. but now it is not that way, why the fall, we are not worthy of a rule over creation as we are now.
    4. But we also see Jesus, he was made like us, by suffering death vicariously for the rest of us he was crowned with glory and honor. One of the things we are missing since the fall
    5. Now he is able to restore many sons to the same glory we had at creation but lost at the fall, because he has become one of us
    I Cor. 15:24-28
    Jesus must reign until all enemies are vanquished, both material; and immaterial, he does it as our representative pointed to in verse 27 referencing psalm 8. in order that we might be restored to the position we had at creation where we were both crowned with glory and honor and also had all creation under our feet. Jesus must reign first
    Rev. 22:1-5
    End of verse 5, reign, let that sink in, reign, rule, to be king, we have come full circle, not Jesus, not angels, but us
    God created something beautiful, we destroyed it, and now God has restored both us and the creation and the end is just like the beginning, we will rule over creation with God as the sovereign king now with all things under our feet, with glory and honor as little rulers under God, why because Jesus has paid the price for us to gain back our authority over creation.
    Gods plan when viewed from 30000 feet is a kingdom restoration plan
    Ruling in beginning and ending over gods’ creation under his ultimate sovereignty. Kings under the ultimate sovereign king, it is an earth-oriented plan, Heaven is not sitting on a cloud playing a harp. From what little we have in scripture in seems the final kingdom is even more glorious than the first one.
    Now let’s come down to 5000 feet and look again at the interval between the start and the end and ask what vehicles did God use to get us to the ultimate restoration of all things. It did not happen in a vacuum. We will find that it took time and pain. And it is still underway. But here is what now comes in to view
    Slide 2
    Promises gen. seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent
    Floods Noah, a restart was necessary, not damage control, reshaping of earth necessary. Followed by a promise of stability in our environment until the end so god’s kingdom plan can go forward
    Confusion of language Babylon, force filling the earth
    People Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Mary, Paul, martin Luther
    Nations Israel, Assyria, Babylon, united states
    Covenants – ab. Mosaic, new, Davidic, major drivers of the kingdom plan
    Prophets add to understanding of the plan, fill in additional facts about how the covenants will work out in the future, along with calling for present repentance and impending judgment
    First coming of the Messiah - Jesus - most important part, central, nevertheless a vehicle to achieve the ultimate outcome
    Second coming – staged events like first coming, includes both staged judgments, restorations, and resurrections
    All these are vehicles, spaced over many years, and designed by God and necessary to move a destroyed creation to a restored creation
    Let’s move down now and land our plane. Now we are face to face with people and nations. Relationships, intrigue, good decisions and bad decisions and the consequences of them. But nevertheless, all working together to bring about the culmination of God’s kingdom plan
    We are each individually part of gods kingdom plan. Whatever niche you find yourself in. It is part of gods kingdom plan which was designed for you to make a difference.
    Today we are going to look at one covenant god used as a very key vehicle in his plan. Remember the promises of the covenants are simply vehicles that energize and drive the kingdom program and the prophets add insight progressively into how the fulfillment will take place.
    Covenants are vehicles. They take place within boundaries. Gen. 1:26-28 compared to Rev. 22:5 is the boundary. The covenants become the conduit for God blessing through Israel all the nations on earth
    There are four major covenants that you need to be aware of because they are key to god’s kingdom program when working at ground level
    Slide 3
    Show the four – if we view gods kingdom plan as a 1000-piece puzzle, the covenants would be the vehicles making up the frame. That is how important they are to the whole
    Slide 4
    A covenant is a sovereign pronouncement of God by which He establishes a relationship of responsibility (1) between himself and an individual, (2) between Himself and mankind in general, (3) between Himself and a nation, or (4) between Himself and a specific human family.
    Slide 5
    Some other points about covenants:
    1. Covenants are key to understanding gods plan of restoration
    2. Covenants are key to understanding the messages of the prophets -they are intimately connected to the messages of the prophets, prophets speak in relationship to the promises of the covenants
    3. covenants are intricately connected, they do not exist in separate orbits
    4. the four major covenants that are vehicles in god’s kingdom program start in the torah they are either fully developed there or found in skeletal form there being fully developed later
    5. the covenants do not contradict each other but build upon each other as revelation progresses
    The first is what’s known as the Abrahamic covenant, introduced in Gen. 12
    Does not begin on a blank page. God’s kingdom program by Gen. 12 is already underway and this is another step in the process, an introduction of a new vehicle
    Just like gods plan is underway today and you are a vehicle designed and introduced into his plan for just a moment like this for the years of life he gives us
    In the first 11 chapters of Genesis God is basically working with all humanity
    With Gen. 12, one individual out of whom a nation will come is now focus of gods attention, a vehicle to continue gods plan of restoration. The rest of the Old Testament will remain focused on this nation
    Abram was born about 2166 BC.
    Gen. 11:26 - Abram introduced, the son of Terah
    Slide 9
    God chose to establish a beachhead to bring about his redemptive purposes and he chose Abram to do this. Abram is 75 years old when he entered Canaan. This is the first introduction of the covenant. additional features will be added, foundational and essential to gods program
    Gen. 12:1-5 read
    Notice – no conditions yet except that ab. Is expected to step out in faith,
    no promise that it will happen in his lifetime,
    not referred to as a covenant yet, just a promise with one condition,
    very important, referred to all over the ol and nt
    In Gen. 12:2-3 God made 6 promises to ab. Depends how you combine them
    Slide 10
    1. great nation will come from Abram
    2. Abram will be blessed
    3. Abram’s name will be great
    4. Abram will be a blessing
    5. reciprocal blessing and cursing depending upon the treatment of Abram
    6. all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through Abram
    expands #2 to the whole earth
    this promise is the whole point of all the others, Israel is a vehicle for god’s purposes’ it was always gods’ intention to bless the entire earth with his kingdom program
    What is not told to Abram - any time frame, a great nation means progeny, he was 75 years old when he left Haran and entered Canaan, this will be a test for Abram
    Gen. 12:6-7 God spoke again and confirmed the progeny component #1 and added a 7th promise, a land promise directed to his offspring, again no conditions other than that ab listen and follow God
    Slide 11
    Every view we are given into Abram’s life is purposeful and connected
    Time went by, Abram and lot parted ways which must have created doubts in Abram’s mind about the land since they departed over a dispute about the land. Abram perhaps about 80 years old.
    Slide 12
    God begins by connecting the next promise to lots departure. In Gen. 13:14-18 No new promises but #1 and #7 embellished, the extent of the number of his progeny is astounding, and the land is now given as an eternal possession to his offspring. Reenforcing the very things Lots departure was causing him to question.
    Time goes by, lot and his family are taken prisoner by four kings who had invaded the land. Abram rescues him with an army of 318 men. Abram now realizes he has put himself in jeopardy. He has angered some local chieftains and has given away much of the booty captured. Even 10% of what he did keep for himself to Melchizedek. Every view we are given into Abram’s life is purposeful and connected. So, chapter 15 begins with after this because it is connected to it. It begins by addressing Abrams immediate concerns. Now probably in early 80s.
    Slide 13
    Gen. 15:1-20
    Verse 1
    God addresses his immediate concern. Those four kings will not be a problem. I am your shield. Also, God promises to reward Abram. Not through the booty he might have taken in that battle.
    Abram questions the reward because the one reward hoped for which is a child has not come yet. and realizing he is getting older now he hatches a plan to help God realize the promises he made thinking perhaps God needs his help
    Verse 2 and 3 Abram presents his plan
    Verse 4 gods response
    Verse 5 promise #1 reiterated this time as the stars in heaven as opposed to the dust of the earth
    This has been debated this for centuries since the number of stars seen before the telescope was about 1000. So there seemed to be something wrong here. The dust of the earth compared to 1000 stars. But after the Hubble space telescope was launched the British astronomical society has said we now know there are as many stars in the universe as sand on all the seashores of the world
    Verse 6 Abram’s response in spite of his age he believed God
    Verse 7 God continues, emphasizing the land
    Verse 8 Abram is exasperated, dangers surround him and he is alone; He does not have the capability to take possession of the land, he has no progeny, all he has is a promise from God
    Here is what God does
    Verse 9-end
    God uses a common method in Abram’s culture to confirm a covenant to give confidence to Abram, confirms his promise with a covenant
    In doing so he gives a tiny glimpse that his progeny will be enslaved for 400 years but will come back to the land as promised by covenant
    Only God walked through the pieces, normally both parties would, the covenant was unconditional, meaning it is based solely on Gods promised word and he is obligated to fulfill it. Human failure by Abraham or his seed will not be permitted to abrogate the covenant or block its ultimate fulfillment although it may delay the fulfillment until later. Disobedience may slow down the fulfillment but it will not change or abrogate its ultimate fulfillment. It is based upon gods promise alone
    Notice the land dimensions, huge swath of land, it you take this at face value, to date, Israel has never possessed this extent
    In chapter 16 Unfortunately, Abraham goes forward with another alternative plan devised by his wife giving rise to Ishmael. Abram is now 86 years old
    So often we do this too. God is too slow; he takes too long so we hatch our own plan. Usually what happens is God still comes through, but our competing plan now just complicates things for us.
    Slide 14
    Abram is now 99 years old, and God to Abrahams great amazement confirms the covenant. Gen. 17:1-9
    Confirms promise #1 and #2 nations and kings come from you
    Changes Abram’s name to the Hebrew pointing for a plural
    The land promise #5 is identified again as everlasting The covenant itself is identified as everlasting
    Slide 15
    Gen. 17:15-16
    Sarah renamed and explains why
    Gen. 17:17-22
    Abraham laughs about the impossible situation that he feels God must overcome. and is it any wonder since he was just renamed as father of a multitude. He then presents to God the result of his latest attempt to help the situation along.
    God responds by restating the covenant, promising a son from Sarah, and names the son Isaac (he laughs), a constant reminder to Abraham
    Slide 16
    The visit - very shortly after still 99, A and S were visited by three individuals one of which was God himself– Gen. 18:9-15
    The situation had become impossible, both of them have now realized that only God can do what he promised. Their bodies are no longer capable unless a miracle happens.
    Slide 17
    Life went on and Abraham had a son as God fulfilled his promise and covenant. After the account of Abraham, (at Gods command) being willing to sacrifice his own son, believing that God could raise the dead to fulfill his promises
    Gen. 22: 15-18, a protection from enemies, all nations blessed
    Confirms promise #1 #2, #6, #7
    None of the promises have been forgotten, all of them will be fulfilled. Abraham has been confirmed in his obedience and has learned much about trusting God.
    Slide 18
    Gen. 26:1-6, 23
    Isaac the seed through which the covenant will proceed to fulfillment
    Gen. 28:13-15
    Jacob the seed through which the covenant will proceed to fulfillment
    Gen. 35:11-13
    Jacob again has covenant confirmed
    Is this covenant important to gods plan to redeem mankind and the earth?
    Slide 19
    Psalm 105:6-11 God through the psalmist reiterates the promises to Abraham and his seed. It is very important in god’s plan
    Slide 20
    Summary of the covenant
    1. individual promises to Abraham
    2. national promises to Abraham’s descendants
    3. universal promises to the nations
    Why is it important
    all these promises form the starting point for a beachhead from an individual, out of which a nation will come to bring deliverance to the all the nations. Abraham and his progeny were to be the vehicle to bring salvation to the entire world and not just the Jews.
    A covenant still in active progress, point to summary
    1. Some covenantal promises have already been fulfilled giving us confirmation of our faith
    2. Some Covenantal promises are underway giving us confidence in the present
    3. Some covenantal promises are still to be fulfilled giving us hope for the future,
    What I am talking about is the land, ethnic and national promises of the covenant to the nation of Israel. No land promise is given to the nations of the world. Only to Israel. Yet we see Israel existing today in abject apostasy. Being disobedient to every covenant given to them. The covenant as given to them was eternal and unconditional meaning that at some point all the promises remaining will yet need to be fulfilled
    So, what must happen and when and how will the unfulfilled promises be fulfilled? what will happen to Israel and the land promised to them as an everlasting possession
    Two ways this is understood and you should be aware of it
    1. 1 and 3, the individual promises to ab and blessings to the nations with the work of Christ have been and are being literally fulfilled historically, 2 the national, ethnic, and land promises for national Israel will not be fulfilled literally and historically. The promises have been transcended by the church which has replaced Israel in god’s kingdom program. There are no longer any national, ethnic or land promises to be fulfilled for Israel in the future. Israel has been set aside in gods kingdom program as a nation.
    2. all promises to Israel will be literally fulfilled as promised by an unconditional covenant. Therefore, the NT does not reinterpret the old or transcend the promises to make them almost unrecognizable but adds to them and builds upon them. There will be a future restoration of Israel as promised and all gods national, ethnic, and land promises to Israel will be fulfilled literally. Both the coming judgments and the blessings.
    This is what I believe but you should be aware of these two views that people have today about Israel’s place in gods kingdom program.
    The glorious plan of our God that he would choose a fallible man to whom he would make unconditional eternal promises that God will fulfill as we move towards his final kingdom
    Ab is much like us. A man of his time. Not perfect in any sense. What made him stand out in his age. Ab lived for the coming kingdom. He lived and believed in the promises god made to him about this life. But he knew the real life was not here. It was in the city in the kingdom that God would build and not man. He lived for a different city in a different kingdom.
    Slide 21
    Heb. 11:8-12
    Which kingdom are we living for? This one here, or the one God will build?
    Story of man too old to count, wasted too much of life.

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